Duration: 1 Hr 40 Mins
Director: Nicholas Kharkongar
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Release Date: 11th June 2020
Streaming On: Netflix
Star Cast: Sayani Gupta, Lin Laishram, Aakash Bharadwaj, Lanuakum Ao, Rohan Joshi, Dolly Ahluwalia, Vinay Pathak, Adil Hussain, Asenla Jamir, Tenzin Dalha, Merenla Imsong, Roshan Joshi
Plot: ‘Axone’ set in South Delhi’s overtly crowded Humayunpur revolves around a bunch of friends - Chanbi (Lin Laishram), Upasana (Sayani Gupta), Zorem (Tenzin Dalha), Balamon (Merenla Imsong) and Bendang (Lanuakum Ao) from the Northeast. These friends decide to cook Axone - a traditional Naga dish of pork with axone (a fermented soybean dish) and surprise Minam (Asenla Jamir) who is getting married the same evening.
Since, Axone (Akhuni) smells real bad and as they cannot afford to invite the ire of their Jat landlord (Dolly Ahluwalia) and other neighbours, they must do so in stealth mode. With only a few hours to go before the ceremony begins, these friends are confronted with a plethora of unpleasant circumstances, ranging from internal group conflicts, blatant racism, slut-shaming, and the unforgiving Delhiites. How they are going to make Minam’s favourite dish with so many hurdles to overcome, is the story all about.
Review: The director of the film Nicholas Kharkongor has come up with a slice-of-life drama that adds teaspoons of friendship, food, comedy, satire, thriller, and romance to it along with the social commentary on Northeastern immigrants in Humayunpur, Delhi, which is referred as ‘Bangkok Street’. He has quite well narrated the struggles of the Northeastern migrant community in Delhi with ‘Axone.’ That literally means ax (smell) + one (strong) - where smell has been used as a metaphor for the intangible repulsion towards the Northeastern community.
However, this socio-cultural drama is not shown as a battle between the North Indians and the Northeasterns. Instead, the director has aimed to present both sides of the story on a platter and left it on the viewers to observe.
When it comes to the star cast, kudos to the casting directors Dilip Shankar and Sanjeev Maurya. They have managed to assemble a talented pool of Northeastern actors to render a certain level of authenticity and make the world of Axone even more real; hence the only actor who plays a Northeastern migrant but is not one in real life is Sayani Gupta.
Speaking about performance, Sayani is brilliant! It seems like she has worked hard on her accent, and the effort pays off.
While Lanuakum Ao’s Bendang stands out for his natural portrayal, Lin Laishram as Chanbi is the headstrong one, and with her impressive spoken Hindi skills and powerful confrontational scenes, she leaves a lasting impression.
Dolly Ahluwalia as Maata Ji depicts the loud, frustrated Delhi aunties, Vinay Pathak as the landlord is sneaky and hilarious, while the ‘colony kid’ Shiv (Rohan Joshi) plays a pesky but well-mannered boy who manages to bridge the gap between the two worlds with his sense of humour. Also, Adil Hussain chimes in a cameo, though he does not have any dialog, he nails his expression of a curiously suspicious watchdog.
As far as music is concerned, Tajdar Junaid blends in various folk-ish songs from different states to stay true to the film’s roots – right from Nagaland and Sikkim to Manipur and Mizoram.
Overall, ‘Axone’ will make its audience curious enough to ask the right questions about a culture that they do not understand. Additionally, apart from touching upon the otherization of a community, it also simply showcases how people live together in lands far away from their real ones and create a sense of home.