Chakwood is the name of the movie industry of the Chakma community who live in parts of North-East India and Bangladesh.
The Chakmas are one of the 200 tribes of North-East India who inhabit the states of Assam, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, and Tripura. They also live in parts of West Bengal. Earlier when India had not been partitioned and Bangladesh had not been formed, many Chakmas lived within the country at Chittagong Hills. Today, there are more than 2 lakh Chakmas living in many places in India and a little over 3 lakh living in Bangladesh. Over the years, the Chakmas have developed their own movie industry which is called Chakwood and is made in their language. Two of their movies, Tanyabi's Lake (2005) and Mor Thengari (2015) have been big hits and have been showcased at national and international forums.
Closer home, the Chakma film and music industry has become very popular in Tripura. From this industry has emerged an actor called Nation Chakma who at the age of 25 has become a big name in the community due to his acting abilities. He is an actor, producer, director, and television personality on weekends, but on weekdays, he works as a data entry operator with a bank. He says that acting is his passion and gives him the kind of creative freedom that no other job does. “Earlier no one knew me but today people recognize me on the streets. I feel very blessed,” he says.
Nation’s foray into the film industry began in 2015 when he was approached by his friend Supen Chakma of Eruk Films, a local production company. At first he worked behind the scenes as the Chief Operating Officer of the company but eventually the acting bug bit him. From a very early age he aspired to do something that people would remember him for even after his death, just like how soldiers are remembered as martyrs. Movies gave him the platform to fulfil this aspiration.
Nation started his career with a small role in a short film called Ju Ju. Later he made his acting debut as a lead in 2017, with a comedy film called Bassuri: A story about a bamboo seller. He played the role of an IPS Officer. It brought him instant recognition among the community and made him immensely popular. His next appearance was in a film Dreamer -the paromi world featuring Anil Kumar Chakma who is famous for his remarkable acting in the movie Undossi boido. Nation has also appeared in a music video with Mangali Chakma called ‘Jogora’ . While his first movie portrayed him in a comic role, the music video showcased him as a romantic actor.
Born in Tripura in 1996, the young actor is one of three siblings. His father’s name is Diprahar Chakma and mother’s name is Sarala Chakma. His father used to work many jobs including that of being a vegetable seller. Nation is a diploma holder from Tripura Institute of Technology (NIT) in 'Computer Science and Technology'. His goal is to be an independent and successful businessman so he can continue to make films. His hobbies include operating computers and learning new things. He also has interest in singing and helping people in their hour of need.
Chakma says that he first decided to become an actor when he came to Agartala to pursue his diploma. He realized that he had acting skills and that he was drawn to fame and fortune. “In my daily life, I have noticed that to make it big in life, you need to have some form of fame.” He feels that having fame will help him when he forays into becoming a businessman. “I want to be remembered by people,” he adds.
Nation hopes that Chakwood develops into a major film industry as there are many stories that need to be told. “As long as there are people interested in good indigenous films, Chakwood will continue to grow. I want to see it reach new heights nationally and internationally,” he says.
This article has been created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.