Model-turned-actress Lin Laishram, who hails from Manipur, had essayed the role of Bem-Bem in Omung Kumar's 2014 National Award-winning film Mary Kom which starred Priyanka Chopra in the titular role. In a recent chat with Free Press Journal, Lin opened up on the representation of North East when it comes to Bollywood films.
Speaking about Priyanka Chopra-starrer Mary Kom, Lin said that while she admires the Quantico actress for her hard work, a girl from the North East or Manipur should have been cast to represent them.
"I admire Priyanka for her hard work, she really put in a lot of hours in order to look like Mary Kom but I always felt that casting is an important step in film. I believe in authenticity and inclusivity, so a girl from Manipur or the North East could have been surely cast to represent us...When it comes to playing an achiever from the North East, a non-North Eastern person is chosen as seen in Mary Kom. On the other hand, why not cast people from North East also as normal Indians in all walks of life which we are," Lin told the tabloid.
Citing example of the recently released Family Man Season 2 in which majority of the cast and crew were Tamils, the actress questioned, "The latest example of great inclusivity is The Family Man 2. In the show, people are cast from Tamil Nadu and speak Tamil, representing their local culture and ethnicity, and it has been so widely accepted and appreciated. So, if south Indian culture can be accepted then why not North Eastern?"
Lin also opened up on facing racism in the industry on various occasions and said, "One is approached to play stereotypical roles like a spa girl, prostitute or a waiter. Not that playing these characters demeans an actor but it's how we are seen and typecast. Its little knowledge about our culture that bothers us. When it comes to playing an achiever from the North East, a non-North Eastern person is chosen as seen in Mary Kom. On the other hand, why not cast people from Northeast also as normal Indians in all walks of life which we are?"
Lin further said that the North Easterns barely had anything to relate to when it came to Bollywood and added, "The only person that belonged to the North East was Danny Denzongpa, but we couldn't relate to him either because he spoke fluent Hindi which most of us didn't. By the time Bollywood discovered us, we had already entered our films on the global platform with Aribam Syam Sharma's masterpiece Imagi Ningthem winning Golden Montgolfiere at the Festival des 3 continents, Nantes in 1982."
Talking about Lin Laishram's work in Bollywood, apart from Mary Kom, the actress has also featured in films like Om Shanti Om, Umrika, Rangoon and Axone.