Nicholas Kharkongor’s Axone which made its digital release on Netflix recently and has already become one of our favourite films of the year. The movie begins with a simple narrative of a group of friends from the North East trying to make a traditional Naga dish.
The film sheds light on the racism, discrimination and everyday hassle North Easterners face in their everyday lives when they live away from home.
But what makes Axone stand out is the cast – a group of North Eastern actors playing the roles of North Easterners.
As simple as it sounds, culturally appropriate casting is something that can make all the difference and is often done wrong. From Bhumi Pednekar being brown-faced for her role in Bala to Alia Bhatt playing a South Indian in 2 States and Priyanka Chopra playing Mary Kom. No one believed that accent was real.
Axone does have some prominent names like Vinay Pathak and Dolly Ahluwalia, who play residents of Delhi and Sayani Gupta, who even though a part of the group of friends, is considered an outsider.
However, apart from these faces, we have Lin Laishram, Lanuakum Ao and Tenzin Dalha who make it impossible to look away from the screen with their gripping acting. Lin Laishram made her Bollywood debut with Mary Kom, whereas Tenzin Dalha made an impact with his performance in Margarita With A Straw.
A woman who is marrying the person she loves from miles away, a shop-owner who is helping his girlfriend prep for his ex-girlfriend’s wedding, a best friend who wants nothing more than to make the bride’s favourite dish – Axone is a tale of love, food, friendship, culture and belonging. Something that has been made possible by a cast that makes you believe in it.