The Danny Denzongpa Model for the North East
I met Meghalaya Chief Minister DD Lapang at a dinner reception in Delhi the other night. He’s a good listener who put up with my monologue for quite a while as I held forth on ways to open up opportunities in the rest of India for youth from the seven northeastern states.
Lapang left with the promise of another meeting. But not before I asked him why Bollywood boasts of only one Danny Denzongpa? Given the abundance of physical beauty in the northeast, why do governments there not encourage young boys and girls to seek careers in films or in the television industry as smart reporters and news anchors? They also have the physical fitness to become world-class athletes with proper training and facilities.
Broader northeastern participation in these areas of opportunity would fetch double dividends: fame, remuneration and countrywide following for NE’s Gen-X scaling up their stakes in a strong and united India.
Films, performing arts and sports are time-tested vehicles for national integration. Remember Shahrukh Khan’s Chak De with its adorable pan-India hockey team? Or the huge public support for Darjeeling’s part-Nepalese celebrity Prashant Tamang when he won Indian Idol III?
The audience vote for Tamang came not just from West Bengal. His appeal transcended boundaries to mobilize fan following across the region including Nepal, Sikkim and the rest of India. Danny too is from Sikkim. He got his film name from none other than Jaya Bhaduri, Rajya Sabha MP from UP who was his classmate in the Film and Television Institute of India.
I’m convinced problems in the northeast can be best addressed through a broader emotional bandwidth.
The larger the number of national icons from that region, the greater will be their people-to-people communication with mainland India.
Yes, opening track-II with the alienated northeast is vital to peace in that region. China and Pakistan can wait. We must first start talking to our own people with the objective of giving them ownership in India’s future.