Guwahati: The controversy surrounding Dimasa’s National Award-winning film ‘Semkhor’ by Assamese filmmaker Aimee Baruah refuses to die down, even a month after it left the theaters after a moderate success.
On Sunday, several pressure groups under the banner of the ‘Committee for the Protection of Dimasa Rights’ renewed their pledge to push for Baruah’s apology regarding the “incorrectness of Dimasa’s culture” and seek a ban on screenings of the film, especially at film festivals. International.
“We feel neglected and exposed in front of the world, and we believe that it is an attempt to distort our identity and history by nefarious agendas of external forces,” said Dr Mohonto Langthasa, vice president of Dimasa Sahitya Sabha. , he said in a speech. about 70-80 people, mostly Dimasas, who came from many parts of Assam to participate in the conference titled ‘Protection of Indigenous Rights and general falsification of Culture, Tradition, and Culture of Dimasa People in Semkhor Film ‘.
Outlining the committee’s demands, Langthasa said, “We must ensure the ban and complete cancellation of the CBFC certificate for the film ‘Semkhor’. We also urge withdrawal of the press releases issued by Baruah paid to confirm the story of the film. We also demand a public apology from Baruah for the falsification of our customs. Fourthly, we demand compensation from the Dimasa community. Finally, the awards given to the film must be returned. concerned institutions.”
“Justice” for the family of the child ‘Claring’ used for shooting and died a few days in the film, is also one of the main requirements of the pressure groups.
Daniel Langthasa, a local politician-cum-activist, who runs a popular YouTube channel, sparked controversy when he interviewed the parents of the little boy and they appeared to be asking for justice.
Later, however, they withdrew their demand for “justice” and it was reported in some media that the baby was born with a weak heart.
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Daniel, who was also present at the conference, said that the Committee has taken the decision to contact Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Governor Jagadish Mukhi on the demands.
“Furthermore, it has also been resolved that if Aimee Baruah does not apologize to the Dimasa community within a month, people will take to the streets in protest,” he told EastMojo.
Former cabinet minister Holiram Terang, who is a Karbi, questioned Baruah’s gall about misleading “the most ethnically northeastern tribe of the Dimasas” before alleging a major political conspiracy by the BJP. led by the central government to alienate the tribals of Assam and promote ‘Hindutva .
“In this whole fiasco, Aimee Baruah’s role is not the only important one. We feel that it is the Indian government that is allowing this kind of oppression, repression, and dehumanization. Incidentally, Aimee Baruah happens to be being the wife of a minister from Assam and using the power of the state and central government in this case,” Terang later told EastMojo about the program.
“Our complaints are genuine,” Padma Bathari, an organizer of the committee, told EastMojo, adding that the community will continue to push until the demands are resolved. Newton Langthasa, the Guwahati-based filmmaker of Dimasa, said they will hold another conference “in a bigger and bigger way.”
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Dimasa’s organizations were joined by artists and intellectuals from other tribes such as Rabha, Hajong, Karbis, who asked for more support from other tribes from the North East to continue this movement.
Baruah’s ‘Semkhor’, shot amid the country’s COVID-19 lockdown, became a hit on the festival circuit and garnered a number of accolades, including the coveted National Award. . Acclaimed by critics for portraying a far-reaching culture, it was widely marketed as Dimasa’s first language film.
Aimee’s appearance in Cannes promoting the film, where she stunned the paparazzi by flaunting a home-grown ‘mekhela chadar’, led to further hype.
However, the problem started after the film received a delayed release (September 23) when members of the Dimasa community felt “problematic” patterns with the expression of their community. For example, her portrayal of female mortality and child marriage in the Dimasa community has drawn quite a few feathers. She was also criticized for her portrayal of Dimasa priests as carnivores.
“We were happy watching the film. However, when we found out how it portrayed our community, we were left. For the loss, we demand compensation from Baruah,” said the president of the student union Dimasa Uttom Langthasa. EastMojo after a few days.
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Despite the controversy, Baruah said she took liberties with the text as it is a work of fiction and “fiction can be anything.”
EastMojo reached out to Aimee for comment, but calls were returned.
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