While debates rage about the new law that makes it illegal to refer to anyone of North-Eastern origin as ‘chinki’, legendary actor Danny Denzongpa, who is from Sikkim, is all for the move.
“It’s a great relief for the young people from that region who are living outside, especially for girls who go through hell,” one of Bollywood’s most stylish villains told HT Café over the phone from Sikkim. He added: “But it’s unfortunate that this had to be legally enforced. Although it is significantly neglected, the North-East is part of India and to feel alienated in your own land is the saddest thing to happen.”
Lack of knowledge — geographical and cultural — among people is the prime reason for such discrimination, observed Danny. “Times have changed, but the perception and approach hasn’t. All this is because of ignorance and the lack of interest,” he said.
The actor has been a victim of racial discrimination himself over the years, though the time he spent as a student at the FTII (Film and Television Institute of India) during the Indo-China war in 1962 was the worst.
“I dreaded stepping out of the campus because people would stare, and jibes like Gurkha, Chinese, Nepalese and chinki were openly thrown at me,” he recalled. “I lived through hell. It’s very unfair and insensitive.”
The trauma of rejection followed him to Bollywood, but he fought it out and emerged as a name to reckon with. “I knew I was different, but I was going to convert that into an advantage. Once you become a brand, the world wants you — including the same people who had rejected you,” he laughed.