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Home / Art and Culture / This YouTube artist from Nagaland is using humour to fight racial stereotypes

This YouTube artist from Nagaland is using humour to fight racial stereotypes

Meet the 29-year-old fashion designer from Nagaland whose videos make fun of North Indian mannerisms, to highlight the prejudice faced by those from North East India

art-and-culture Updated: Apr 14, 2017 20:22 IST
Soma Das
Soma Das
Hindustan Times
A scene from the video, Presumptuous Chinky Assumes the North Indian Way
A scene from the video, Presumptuous Chinky Assumes the North Indian Way

In the video titled Presumptuous Chinky Assumes the North Indian Way, Merenla Imsong (29), or Miss Imsong, turns the tables on North Indians, by reversing the situations she has been in. “Do you know my friend Pinki Singh from North West India? I thought you all know each other,” she says.

Imsong goes on to question whether all North Indians speak Sanskrit at home, and seems stumped when she is told that neither Ludhiana nor Haridwar are not the capital of Madhya Pradesh, and Bihar is not located in Uttar Pradesh. “All you guys look alike; it’s the eyes,” adds Imsong knowingly, voicing a common stereotype about North-Easterners.

The video, uploaded just a week ago, went viral, with 127K views. “The response has been overwhelming. I thought it would be funny to make a video reversing certain situations,” says Imsong, who on her YouTube page (Miss Imsong) has posted videos on the bias towards non-vegetarians, and hilarious accents.

Read: Meet the Mumbai-based poet whose piece on gender discrimination has gone viral

Imsong grew up in Kohima, Nagaland. She recalls it as a place where she would “walk to school, have family picnics by the stream and go to church each Sunday dressed in my Sunday best”. A decade ago, she moved to Delhi to study zoology, and eventually came to Mumbai. Currently working an assistant fashion designer at a studio, Imsong also acts in plays and advertisements.

She shot her first video more than a year ago, and says the process was accidental. “I was flipping between characters during which one of my cousins filmed me and sent it to friends. By the third day, people were sending the video back to me. So I figured I might as well start a page where I could keep doing this,” she says.

Imsong shoots all her videos at home, using a camera phone. “There is nothing elaborate. I just make sure the room is well-lit and not messy,” she says, adding, “These videos are an extension of my personality. I treat the page as my little art project where I can let loose characters and scenarios that I build up inside my head.”

Imsong’s videos are relevant at a time when racial prejudice towards Africans and North-Easterners is rampant, but she chooses humour over activism. “Sometimes, using humour to deal with a not-so-pleasant situation can be therapeutic. I gravitate towards comedy because it is an intrinsic part of my life,”she says.