Manipur-born actor Lin Laishram’s ethnicity stands as obstacle to her race in Bollywood
Lin Laishram, a Manipur-born model and an actor who has made appearances in Hindi films like, Priyanka Chopra starrer ‘Mary Kom’ and Saif Ali Khan, Shahid Kapoor and Kangana Ranaut starrer ‘Rangoon’, made her presence felt in the Bollywood industry only after Netflix hit comedy-drama Axone in 2020.
Lin Laishram considers that Bollywood’s “narrow vision” for artists from the northeastern states has robbed them off of excellent opportunities.
She believes it is prime time Bollywood dropped off stereotypes from the actors of northeast ethnicity.
“I have so many friends—who are established now — with whom I studied acting, did theatre... They are doing way more work than I am doing right now. If I have two auditions in a month, they have 15-20. It’s easier for them to get roles,” said Laishram.
35-year-old Lin grew up in Imphal and as a child, she was fascinated by the Hindi films but also felt a “disconnect” because of the lack of screen representation of artists from this region.
And the only actor she connected with was actor Danny Denzongpa, who hails from Sikkim.
“He looked like us but he was so good with his Hindi, he sounded like any other actor of his time. We felt he’s more like them than us because he didn’t have an accent,” said Lin.
Refusing work hasn’t been easy for Lin as with each cliche role she turned down, she lost her time and money.
“I didn’t see any North Eastern actor (on-screen) who would look like us. I had no other footsteps to follow. To learn that if you do smaller roles, it’ll lead to something big, I didn’t have that luxury,” she said.
Lin, who is an important part of veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah’s theatre company, said that even though the appreciation for her role in Axone made her happy but it came to her after a struggle of nearly a decade in the industry.
All she wants from Bollywood is inclusivity.
(Edited by Aparmita Das)
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