Here’s a quick question – can you name the Seven Sisters of India without Google’s help? Do you know the state capitals, languages spoken, culture, etc? Anubhav Sinha’s socio-political drama ‘Anek’ is centered on the disenchantment felt by the people of North East India, and poses an important question – what does it mean to be an Indian?
It’s war after peace after war…
Aman alias Joshua (a stoic, wonderfully restrained Ayushmann Khurrana) is an undercover police officer stationed in an unnamed region in the North East. He reports to a high ranking government official, Abrar (Manoj Pahwa), who instructs him to maintain peace in the area, no matter the cost. The union government is close to signing a peace treaty with separatist leader Tiger Sanga (Loitongbam Dorendra Singh) and even a small slip-up can render their efforts futile. In order to maintain pressure on Sanga, Abrar and co supply arms to a breakaway rebel group, led by the mysterious Johnson. In the midst of all this is a talented boxer called Aido (Andrea Kevichusa), who dreams of representing India. Aman cosies up to Aido in order to keep an eye on her father Wangnao (Mipham Otsal), who he suspects is Johnson.
Expectedly, as Aman grows closer to the locals, he starts questioning the true purpose of his mission and Abrar’s intentions. Through Aido, we experience the racial abuse North East Indians are subjected to by their fellow countrymen. We’re shown how children grow up detached from the rest of India, and consider the country an unsavoury foreign land. The film fosters many discussions through its characters: one person’s peace is another’s chaos; diversity and democracy are often meaningless words; war and peace are part of a vicious cycle and so on.
While the film has its heart in the right place, it moves slowly and is weighed by many sub-plots. Yet this is a film worth watching as it asks questions that are rarely raised by commercial cinema.
WATCH OR NOT
Makes for a relevant and empathetic watch in the current socio-political climate.
Director: Anubhav Sinha
Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Manoj Pahwa, Andrea Kevichusa, JD Chakravarthi, Kumud Mishra, Mipham Otsal, Loitongbam Dorendra Singh