The new Netflix film “Anek” focuses on the politics associated with North-East India. Since India’s independence, rebel groups in the North-East have been demanding a separate nation due to their detachment from “mainland” India. Northern Eastern people have always faced extreme racism in their own country. During the pandemic, there were reports of people hurling abuse at the Northeast community, blaming them for bringing the virus to the nation. The film, directed by Anubhav Sinha, tries to draw the audience’s attention to the seven sister states, where there are endless conflicts between the central force and the local uprising. While “Anek” is an essential film for Indians who are clueless about North-East politics, it struggles to narrate the story smoothly. The characters lack depth, the dialogues are lifeless, and the romance between the characters Aman and Aido was painfully stiff.
‘Anek’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
Aman (Ayushmann Khurrana) is an undercover agent who currently resides in North-East India (the state is not mentioned) under the pseudonym Joshua. His mission was to bring peace in the form of control. The Central Government wanted to end the war by signing a peace accord with the prominent militant group, Tiger Sanga. The idea was to allow Tiger Sanga to run the state government provided they continued to abide by the Indian constitution. While the remaining militant groups had agreed to support the Tiger Sanga, there was another militant group on the rise, who was known by the name Johnson. Johnson was created by the Indian government to pressurize Tiger Sanga to sign the peace accord. They used an old picture of an ex-Tiger Sanga member, Rongmo, to promote the rebel organization. The rise of another militant group meant that it would jeopardize Tiger Sanga’s position as the sole voice of the people of the North-East. As a result, they would be forced to agree to what the Indian government offered to retain their position and control.
Even though Johnson was created by the Indian government, there was a group that started to function under the same name. They were against signing the peace accord and believed that the Tiger Sanga was betraying their people by agreeing to the conditions of the Central Government. Their purpose was to strengthen their economy by supporting local businesses. They believed that economic independence would be one way to demand a separate nation successfully. They also felt that education was important, as it is only through education that they could put forward their demand and explain their situation. They did not believe in violence, but if they had to take up arms for their cause, they were prepared to do so. The common people started supporting the “I am with Johnson” group, and many worked for the cause. Aman’s superior, Abrar Butt, asked him to hunt down the new militant group before signing the peace accord. What they assumed would help bring Tiger Sanga under control was now another real problem they had to deal with.
Amidst it all, there was Aido. A young boxer who dreamt of representing India. Upon arriving in New Delhi, she was on the receiving end of endless racist remarks, but she continued to believe that it was through her sport that she could represent her people. She wanted to bring India’s attention to the North East, and for that, she worked incredibly hard. Aman met Aido in her village, and they became friends and were romantically into each other. For Aman, befriending Aido was a part of his job, whereas Aido knew Aman as Joshua and was unaware of his association with the Indian government.
Who Was Niko? Why Was He Killed?
Joshua was the owner of a local café. He lived a regular life with the locals, and behind closed doors, he discussed the operation he was assigned to. Emma was an employee at the café; she knew the whole truth and believed that with the interference of the government, there would be peace in the hills. She feared for her son, Niko, a young boy who lived in the village and whose friends were part of the Johnson militant group. Niko used to provide food to his friends, though he did not take up arms. Even though Niko tried to not get involved in the struggle, he could not help but notice the harm that was caused due to the conflict between the police and the rebels. He saw the police burn paddy fields, a source of income for the villagers, in an attempt to force the villagers to confess the whereabouts of Horen, the group leader.
Niko was arrested by the police since he wore the same cap as the militant group. He was stripped down and tied to bamboo shoots. The police had arrested nearly every youth and brutally tortured them to learn more about Johnson. Emma reached out to Aman for help, and he drove to the station to help Niko. After saving him from the brutality, Emma advised Niko to go to Delhi for a safe future, but he disagreed. He loved his village and wanted to live there and farm. He did not wish for luxury; he simply wanted to live an ordinary life in his village. After returning to his village, Niko started helping his friends who were being hunted by Tiger Sanga’s men. The group was a target of both the police and the Tiger Sanga, and it was becoming difficult for them to survive. The members of the group were mostly young kids who took up arms to fight for what their parents had once believed in. During an encounter with the Tiger Sanga men, Niko lost his cousin. That was the day he took up arms and shot a man dead. It was the pain of watching his brother die that forced him to choose the path of violence.
When his group was about to take arms that were delivered by Johnson’s men but were also tracked by the police, they were all shot dead. Aman had tried to stop the police from encountering those kids, but Abrar Butt refused to listen to his request. He was instructed to maintain silence in the hills, and to do that he could go to any extent. Aman conflicted with himself; he believed that they were also, in a way, responsible for bringing in the arms to the villages, worsening the living condition of the local people there. He was confused about whether he was supposed to protect India or the Indians. He was in charge of bringing peace, but it came at the cost of severe violence.
‘Anek’ Ending Explained: Who Was Johnson? Was The Peace Accord Signed?
While Aido was determined to be selected to represent India, her father, Wangnao, did not believe that his people belonged to the nation and he was fighting for their cause. Aman was surprised when Dido, Wangnao’s close associate, asked him for guns in exchange for drugs. They stole the drugs from Tiger Sanga and wanted to use them to their benefit. This alerted Aman that the Johnson group was preparing to fight the police and the Tiger Sanga men on the day the peace accord would be signed. Aman had befriended Aido to get information about her father, but in the process, he had fallen in love with her. Wangnao and his group did not know that Aman was a police officer; they thought he was a businessman who was interested in investing in their war. When Tiger Sanga’s men started to look for the Johnson group, Wangnao escaped from his house. Aido had her qualifying match, but her father announced that he had his match to win and left. Aman came to their house to drive Aido to the airport, and at that moment, he tried to sneak around to collect information about him. Aido caught Aman taking pictures of her father’s documents and questioned his identity. He revealed that he was not Joshua, the man she assumed him to be. But he added that his feelings for her were not false, but Aido had by then lost her respect for him and asked him to leave.
Aman had gathered information regarding Wangnao’s current location and went ahead to confront him. He discussed how he was not Joshua but a police officer. Wangnao was shocked upon learning the truth. He then explained that Johnson was not one man but every north-eastern people who believed in fighting against those who tried to control them. The north-eastern people have always been discriminated against by the rest of India. He stated that the northeast’s only connection to the rest of India was through a small piece of land in West Bengal. When that route remained blocked, the north-eastern states suffered immensely. The conflict made the poor miserable, and the rich thrived as a result. To earn money, people there indulged in the business of drugs and arms. Tiger Sanga men were involved in the drug business and corrupted the youth. He believed that by now, both the State and the Tiger Sanga have realized that it is easier to maintain war than peace, and it results in a never-ending conflict. His conversation with Wangnao left him thinking about what it meant to be an Indian.
While Aman intended to capture Wangnao and try him in court, his senior wanted the man dead. A group of policemen had followed Aman and started to shoot Wangnao and his men. Aman escaped from the situation, but he was mad at Abrar Bhatt, whose order had escalated the situation. Abrar contacted Aman once again to find out Wangnao’s location. Aman knew that the man was hiding in Myanmar, and they had to conduct a surgical strike to bring the man to the country. Abrar assigned Major Veer to the mission to help Aman. While the soldiers wanted to shoot the man dead, Aman advised against it. He stated that he believed in the constitution of India, and he wanted the man to be tried in court. Upon reaching Myanmar, they found that another militant group had reached the spot and were shooting at Johnson’s men. After both the people from the militant groups were shot dead, Aman proceeded to capture Wangnao. Wangnao dropped his gun and surrendered. Meanwhile, Aido had qualified for the final and fought against a German boxer.
Aman met Abrar Bhatt in New Delhi and brought him the files of Wangnao’s crimes and also the crime record of Tiger Sanga. He believed that if Wangnao was to be tried in court, then Tiger Sanga must be arrested as well. And if they intend to negotiate with Tiger Sanga, then they must also do the same with Wangnao. Abrar agreed with Aman’s belief, and he informed the media about the cancellation of the peace accord after compelling evidence of crimes was found against Tiger Sanga. The two, in the end, watch Aido’s winning match at a club, stating how it was she who had won in this game of chess.
While “Anek” brings the spotlight to a marginalized community, it fails to weave a compelling story. The film attempted to bite more than it could chew, and that is evident in how every character is left incomplete. There was a lot of potential in the character of the Kashmiri Muslim bureaucrat, Abrar Bhatt, but we are left with just a couple of references to Kashmir politics and its similarity to the North-Eastern struggle. Aido was another character who was pushed into the background as the film progressed. Though what works for the film is the cinematography by Ewan Mulligan, the scene where Niko and his militant friends are shot dead in the jungle was effectively captured. In the end, “Anek” is worth a watch because of the way it deals with the issue at hand, but it can get tedious and chaotic as it progresses.
“Anek” is a 2022 Political Thriller film directed by Anubhav Sinha.