Verdict: This light-hearted take on cultural stereotypes makes for a delightful watch.
When Axone as a project was announced, it caught lots of eyeballs. This was mainly because it was the first time a mainstream commercial Hindi film was being made on the culture of north-eastern India with a cast that majorly comprised north-eastern actors themselves. Directed by Nicholas Kharkongor, Axone stars Sayani Gupta, Lin Laishram, Tenzin Dalha, Lanuakum, Vinay Pathak, Rohan Joshi, and others.
What’s Axone About:
Minam (Asenla Jamir) is getting married on the same day as her IAS interview. With the added pressure, she wants her wedding to be a smooth affair and to fulfill her wishes, Minam’s friends Chanbi (Lin Laishram), and Upasana (Sayani Gupta) with the help of their boyfriends Bendang (Lanuakum) and Zorem (Tenzin Dalha) set out to throw her a surprise wedding party. While this may seem like a simple affair, the difficult part is cooking Minam’s favorite dish – pork in akhuni (axone), which leaves a very pungent odor that may not be favorable in their New Delhi neighborhood. But Upasana and Chanbi are determined to cook it no matter what. Using the premise of a delicacy quite popular in Nagaland, director Nicholas Kharkongor talks about the daily struggles and stereotypes a north-eastern is subjected to. Axone takes us through the lives of these people, who are living among their own countrymen yet being treated as outsiders.
Axone does what no other mainstream Indian movie has ever done before – cast actual north-eastern actors to play north-eastern roles. Indian cinema has for long ignored this huge community that has been the victim of racism in their own country. Nicholas Kharkongor makes sure that with Axone, this blatant ignorance of the community is highlighted. Sayani Gupta as a Nepali girl does what she does best. She definitely stands out throughout the film but does not overshadow her counterparts. Lin Laishram is a beautiful find for Indian cinema, slightly inexperienced but with loads of potential. Similarly, Tenzin Dalha and Lanuakum have much to offer, if utilized in the right manner. Merenla Imsong, for instance, had about two or three scenes but the audience will remember her even after the movie is over. A special mention should be made for Rohan Joshi and Vinay Pathak who play the roles of the landlady’s grandson and son-in-law. Even in a very small role, Vinay Pathak makes an impact while Rohan Joshi absolutely kills it with his comic timing. His character provides the much-needed comic relief in tense situations.
What Could’ve Been Better:
The storyline does not flow smoothly in some portions. While the intention is great and has been put across well, the narrative could have been better here with a tighter screenplay. Adil Hussain, who is known for his strong performance, has been cast in a role that seems unnecessary. With not a single dialogue, the actor is only seen sitting in one place while being amused at the happenings in the locality.
Why You Should Watch:
If you have ever wished for the right north-eastern representation in films, then you should give Axone a watch. Watch the film for its fresh faces and unique story.