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Exclusive! Meiyang Chang on representation of North-East India in celluloid: Some baby steps and giant leaps have been taken

The actor-singer praised the industry for always being welcoming towards him. 

  • Aishwarya Vasudevan

Last Updated: 05.08 AM, May 17, 2022

Exclusive! Meiyang Chang on representation of North-East India in celluloid: Some baby steps and giant leaps have been taken
Meiyang Chang/Instagram

Around 15 years ago, Meiyang Chang created a storm on television with his singing on the reality show, Indian Idol 3. From thereon, he created a huge fan base for himself. A dentist by profession, Chang is now gearing up for the release of Modern Love Mumbai, in which he is a part of the short film, Mumbai Dragons, directed by Vishal Bhardwaj. In an exclusive interview with OTTplay, the singer-turned-actor who made his acting debut with Badmaash Company, spoke about the evolution of the representation of North-East India in movies and shows.

For the uninitiated, in his role in the Shahid Kapoor and Anushka Sharma-starrer film, Chang's character faces racist comments from his best friend. And now, he is playing a part in which he is representing his community, but that's not the only crux of the short film.

Talking if we have come a long way or if there's much to do, Chang told us, "There is always more to do. This conversation will go on for quite some time. The next generation will also talk about it, and furthermore, baby steps have been taken and some giant leaps have also been taken. It's not that things have changed, at least on the racist front. Those things depend on so much about what the geopolitical situation is and what your awareness of things is."

However, Chang is all praise for the film industry and shared that people have always been welcoming. He said, "I would say, within the industry, I've never felt any differentiation, be it as a singer, host, performer or as an actor." I don't think this is just my experience; everybody who works in the industry, in whatever format you're working in, it's been a very welcoming, democratic situation and there will be people to help you out somehow or the other."

While talking about his acting journey, the Sultan actor revealed, "But purely from an actor's perspective. I would say when I started, I just wanted to be a singer. Then hosting came my way, and I said, 'Why not?' Then acting came into my way, and I didn't think that I could pull it off. I was very insecure about it as I did very few acting jobs during my school and college days. I used to always forget my lines and I didn't think I would be able to do it."

He also shared an anecdote about his first film, stating, "But to get that part first, to be convinced by the director that we are showing a particular thing, we are also addressing your identity crisis, which I faced at that time." They told me that they would show it organically, not sensationalise it or belittle it. We're going to show it nicely so that people will enjoy watching it and will also learn something from it."

Chang concluded by talking about the opportunities he has been getting due to the boom of OTT. He said, "With OTT, of course, several opportunities opened up for me because the gap between my first film and the second film was five years. I was getting offered the same kind of stuff: bevda, chini, Northeast guy, a friend, stuck in certain situations. So to get from that to Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!, another director that I wanted to work with, took some time. I think that the gap between interesting characters and the offers has now been reduced. I feel that good things are happening and I am getting opportunities to work with good people. It's a great time and I'm just glad for all of us that we have so much to say and so much to do."

In the short film Chang is a part of, Wamiqa Gabbi plays the female lead opposite him. Modern Love Mumbai will premiere on Amazon Prime Video on May 13, 2022.