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'Northeast is reservoir of talent but...'

The internationally acclaimed filmmaker Jahnu Barua feels that northeastern India has not been given due recognition.
IANS | By Shweta Thakur, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2008 07:33 PM IST

The northeast is a reservoir of talent but it hurts when people consider the region different from India, says noted Assamese filmmaker Jahnu Barua.

Barua, who shot to fame in Bollywood with Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara (2005) and has won many awards, feels that northeastern India is a reservoir of talent but it has not been given due recognition because the region suffers from a sense of geographical and social alienation.

He is "hurt" that many people do not consider the northeast as a part of India.

"I strongly feel the northeast is a reservoir of talent. For example, in the television music talent hunt reality shows contestants from our region do well. And the nation must realise that they (participants) reach there because of their talent, not favouritism. I want the rest of the country to cherish it, but respect for the region is lacking," Barua told IANS.

Barua holds the local residents equally responsible. "Talents from the region are not being recognised. To a certain extent, we (northeast residents) are also responsible for it because we don't remind them about our potential.

"However, it hurts when people consider it different from India. For instance, once when I checked into the Udaipur Lake Palace (hotel), they asked for my passport...that hurt," the director said.

Barua, who shot a part of his upcoming film Har Pal in Shillong, is proud that he belongs to the northeast.

"I make it a point to tell people in Bollywood that I belong to the northeast. I am very happy that I have shot a part of my next film in Shillong. The female lead (Preity Zinta) belongs to the region," Barua said.

The filmmaker is known for making humane statements in cinematic texts and all his movies are committed to social causes.

Barua's Assamese movie Banani (forest), a telling comment on the environment, was voted the best green movie in 1990 and his Hkagoroloi Bahu Door (Hkagoroloi Is far away) won him the best director's award in 1995 and 15 international prizes, including the World Peace Prize at the Chicago International Film Festival.

He has stuck to his causes since he migrated to Bollywood in 2005. But at the moment he is upset with rumours that Preity Zinta and Shiney Ahuja, the lead pair of Har Pal, are not getting along well.

Barua says he has no clue how he will repair the damage. "I am the director and who knows the reality better than me? Nothing of that sort has happened."

"It is quite unethical to cook up stories. I don't know who is doing that. It is in bad taste not only for the industry but also for the film and the actors involved. I don't know how to repair the damage," he said.

He, however, refused to divulge any details about the movie.

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