It’s no mean feat for women from the Northeast to live in Delhi and make it big. From being called ‘Chinese’, getting bullied by competitors to being considered ‘easy’ by men, they are very often the victims of ruthless racial discrimination. On International Women’s Day, we spoke to four gritty women from the north east, who share how they fought odds and managed to live their dream.
Rejection was heartbreaking
Model Rose Alisha from Assam is a popular face in the Delhi modelling circuit. From ad campaigns to regional movies, she has bagged many prestigious assignments. But the road to success wasn’t easy for her. Rose was initially rejected because she is from the north east. “Casting directors refused to sign her up for modelling assignments and music videos because of my different looks. “I wasn’t given a music video because the casting director said, ‘Yeh to Nepalan lagti hai (She looks Nepalese). Get an Indian face’. It was heartbreaking but I didn’t pay any attention to all this and remained focused on my work,” says Rose. “I knew one day I will be known and appreciated for my work, and not as someone from the north east,” she says.
People love and respect my work
Designer Ranjima Bora is reviving traditional fabrics and crafts from Northeast and incorporating them her collection. She hopes one day she will make the traditional Assamese dress mekhela chador as popular as saris. The journey in the fashion world has not been easy. “Initially, it was very tough to set up a base here because no one knew me. People here have a wrong notion about northeastern women that they are easy going and can easily do things which they ask them to do,” she says. Her faith in her work kept her going. “It took a lot of courage to showcase my work in a world that is dominated by men, but I was not the one to give up,” she says.
Not an outsider anymore
Makeup artist Annalia Zhimomi came to Delhi a few years ago. She soon realized that it was not going to be easy to convince people to hire her. “People didn’t take me seriously because they thought I wasn’t fit for dolling up a Punjabi bride. I was never called for doing makeup for weddings in Delhi because people thought that I won’t have the same sensibilities since I am from Northeast. I felt like an outsider.” Annalia has many prestigious projects to her credit now, along with a few big fat weddings. “I owe it to hard work and perseverance,” she says.
The Northeast is beautiful
Makeup artist Iti Baruah recalls that once she was hired for doing makeup for a short Punjabi film, and the moment the producer got to know that she is from Northeast, she was asked to quit. “I felt terrible. They thought I won’t be able to do the makeup right,” she says. But this doesn’t happen to her anymore. “I have been able to convince people that I am good at my work, and north east is a beautiful Indian state. It only adds to my aesthetic sense,” she says.