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Manipuri actor-model Lin Laishram has received a lot of abuse – when she became an actor- model in Bollywood, when she decided to get married to Randeep Hooda, a non-Manipuri, and now when a video clip has surfaced.
It was sometime in early March that news of Mumbai based Manipuri model-actor Lin Laishram and Actor Randeep Hooda planning to take their relationship status to the next level, came out in several media across the country. Reportedly the two had been dating for quite some time.
Indeed, it was newsy and juicy, especially for the north-east – Lin Laishram is a model-turned Bollywood actress from Manipur. Some of her Bollywood films include Mary Kom and Rangoon.
As expected, the news drew a lot of attention, both the good and the bad. Many applauded. Fans and followers of Lin Laishram congratulated her and wished the couple. Then came the expected. Ridicule, contempt, name calling for Lin Laishram, particularly from her home state Manipur and the north-east region.
Wanting to know more about the news and more so out of curiosity, I checked her Facebook page. It had been deleted. Lin Laishram had kept the relationship a secret, at least on social media. And with the news of her tying the knot, I was curious to see if she had come out in public on social media.
Most celebrities do keep their private life out of their public life. But here there is another angle to it. Lin’s partner and soon-to-be-husband is a non-Manipuri. And this is likely to be the main reason that led her to delete her social media account and social page immediately.
Lin’s twitter account too is inactive, the last tweet was in January 2014 and there are no updates, nor any indication that she is active on twitter.
About a year or so back, Lin had posted a picture of herself with Randeep on her FaceBook page- She didn’t write or post anything that would suggest a relationship. An alert fan, then, had cautioned her that this could invite undesired and unnecessary attention, in her comment.
I was not surprised about her disappearing from social media; obviously to keep away from trolls. This was a clever move. Though many in/ from the state of Manipur applauded her and were actually wishing her happiness, many still rebuked her and mocked her.
But the news of Lin Laishram marrying a ‘non-Manipuri’ died down as COVID-19 struck the world, and reached all nook and corner of India. In Manipur too everyone got caught in the dilemma. Nobody actually remember Lin or her marriage.
In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, out of the blue came a video recording of Lin Laishram in which she was seen and heard to be speaking about ‘racism’.
The video went viral – amongst netizens in/of north-east India. As per the backdrop banner in the video, the occasion seems to be held this year as the print 2020 was visible. The model- actress was supposedly speaking at the event.
In the less than a minute short video clip, Lin Laishram appears to be speaking at an important film related event. There is no way to know what the event or the program was. Whether the event was on the subject or topic of ‘racism’ or whether Lin Laishram was one of the speaker son the subject. Moreover, one can’t make out from the clip what Lin Laishram said before she spoke about ‘racism’.
In the video clip Lin Laishram said, “we are so racist back home… we have names for you guys… mayang….we are racist ourselves….. we are equally racist…”
She went on to say “we have to address this ‘tum problem ho, hum sab thik hai’. No we are not…”
All hell broke loose.
Lin Laishram was attacked – by netizens across the Northeast and in Manipur. The anger was so strong that, it seems had there been no lockdown, or had Lin been at home in Manipur, she would certainly have faced some direct violence! As it stands, anger rained in on social media. The abusive remarks were so foul and awful, below the belt, that it makes one shudder and gives goosebumps.
It did not end there.
A civil society organization (by the name Kangleipak Kanba Lup, Manipur) issued a ‘diktat’ – that the actress is not permitted to step into her home state Manipur, unless she apologies to the organization. In a written press statement dated 2ndApril 2020 the organization stated that “Though Manipur society is conservative….no one had murmured a word of protest when she exhibited her body almost full naked on the ramp for her modelling shows….But that does not mean she can cross the line.”
The Press statement said “we would like to inform Lin Laishram that she should give an unqualified apology to the people of Manipur and rest of north-east region within a week’s time. Failing which, we regret to inform that she would not be allowed to return to Manipur again until further notice..”
The statement also warned that Lin should be prepared for a legal battle for demeaning an entire race of people – the Meitei Race in particualr and the Northeast region as a whole.
Lin Laishram had stayed out of Manipur, her home state, where she had made a mark for her self. A woman in a modelling career or in the film industry is not considered to be a woman of ‘high moral standard’ in a state like Manipur. She had safely kept herself away. But unfortunately her marriage plans with a non-Manipuri brought her to face the society’s wrath, more so after her ‘statement’. For a Manipuri woman to join a film industry outside her home state is a risky affair, though women who are in Manipuri cinema are ‘accepted’ in society.
Many of these leading ladies in Manipuri cinema were not as lucky to join Bollywood. For instance, Manipur’s heartthrob, leading lady Hijam Bala, was forced to come back home in the middle of shooting of a Bollywood film. – some 7 years ago. She was told to come back by a militant group – she had to cross the international boundary to meet them in person to ‘clarify’ her position. Reportedly, for an actress in Manipur, they have to “report to a certain group” if they get any film offer – for their approval.
To top that, Hindi / Bollywood films are banned in Manipur– for almost two decades now.
Lin’s statement that “we are all racist” and that people in her home state were ‘racist’ surely does not qualify her to be ostracized or ex-communicated, or dictated to. Lin Laishram certainly does not deserve what she is subjected to.
While the subject of racism is a complex and complicated subject, Lin’s concluding note was note-worthy – wherein she actually called for a collective change and awareness of the lesser known people of the north-east states in India.
Editor’s note: While this article mentions and is based on a small clip that is linked to above, here is the complete video of the event at which she was speaking – to promote her movie Axone in which she has played the lead role.
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Independent journalist writing on/ of north-east India and engaging with women groups in the
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