DISCLAIMER: This article was first published in the New Indian Express and TNT The Northeast Today has not edited any part of it
Remember Gurmehar Kaur’s placard campaign? Entering the national imagination after his post over nexus of insurgents and politics went viral, Daniel Langthasa a.k.a. Mr. India, an independent musician from Haflong in Dima Hasao district of Assam has since made several parodies lambasting cow vigilantism, inter-tribal conflict, religious extremism and highly criticised government-funded festival ‘Namami Brahmaputra’ that has allegedly promoted sanskritisation of the river. Behind a humorous tone, the musician delivers hard hitting sentences in Haflong Hindi creole.
Q. The most iconic element of your videos is the yellow-coloured glass of two hands covering the eyes. Is it custom-made and does it signify anything related to keeping eyes shut and ignoring injustice? Why have you chosen to wear it as a trademark?
A. No, it is not custom made. I like collecting funny, interesting eye gears. It just happened to be a piece I picked up from a flea market in Goa a couple of years ago while I was touring the state along with a band. I wore it for fun when I recorded the first Mr.India video Sab Goo Khao and I liked it so I decided to use it since then. But yes, keeping our eyes shut and ignoring injustice is definitely what I see people doing around me and that was the first thing which came to my mind when I picked up this eye gear. So yes, you are right.
Q. You always choose Haflong Hindi as the medium of communication in your videos which itself is an assertive statement. Was it an attempt to reach out to the pan-Indian audience along with maintaining the uniqueness of Dima Hasao’s capital? Will you use English in the future or will you stick to Haflong Hindi?
A. Haflong Hindi is the only language I have been speaking continuously since my childhood. I speak a little bit of Dimasa, Assamese, Hindi and my English is just about okay. I used to speak Mizo (my mother’s language) but it’s going from bad to worse due to lack of practice. At home, everyone speaks in Haflong Hindi. Haflong is a multi-cultural town and its unique Hindi unites people. Today, I feel lucky to be fluent only in Haflong Hindi instead of being partial towards any of my parent’s languages. I have seen that communal and ethnic tensions are rooted in languages and even though I respect an individual’s right to use any language that they prefer, it makes most people biased and insensitive towards other languages and the people who use them. Today, more than ever, we need to communicate and understand each other instead of blindly holding onto our languages and losing all good ideas in translation. And I feel that Haflong Hindi is a brilliant language! It’s very easy to learn and adapt. Someone whose Hindi is weak can still understand Haflong Hindi as it is a combination of so many languages of India. It’s the best, worst, corrupt form of Hindi and it might be the future choice of language across India, who knows?
Q. Please tell us something about your childhood experiences, education, you as a person, current work as artiste in Mr. India, founder of The BiG BANG and singer-songwriter at Digital Suicide and future plans for expansion?
A . I’m a simple person who likes to create and do fun things most of the time. I’ve had a wonderful childhood thanks to my parents, siblings, friends and of course my beautiful town, Haflong. When you grow up among the trees and clear blue skies and wonderful weather all year long, everything feels like a dream. I went to a catholic-run school, Don Bosco in Haflong. Then, I went to Guwahati for further studies and joined Cotton College to study Science. After that, I joined Assam Engineering College to study Mechanical Engineering but soon grew disillusioned with the environment there and after what felt like ages, finally gathered enough sense to drop out and pursue things which motivated and attracted me the most — Arts, music, film, books, politics, nature, adventure. I felt connected to all of these and I strongly feel that institutional education only makes a robot out of everyone in the end and prevents you from using your own imagination to contribute to this world. I’m lucky to have never joined a workplace to work under a ‘boss’. I’ve never taken up a traditional job. I’ve always worked for myself. And it has been wonderful. Mr. India, The BiG BANG!, Digital Suicide, Haflong Vlogs are all part of what I keep creating in this cosmos which is but just a small dot. I would like the readers to explore all of these different ideas of mine on their own instead of me trying to explain what it’s all about. I have no idea what else I will keep doing, inventing and discovering but as long as I’m alive, I will definitely keep creating.
Source: The New Indian Express