“Every Naga can use a gun and everyone can also use a guitar” – says Dr. Nicky Kire, elected representative and the advisor to the Musical Task force, Nagaland. He was talking to us during our sojourn in beautiful Nagaland during the making of Guns and Guitars. Paradoxical although he may have sound, he was speaking the truth. After all we were in the land which has witnessed one of the oldest unsolved insurgency problems in the world. And it is also the only state of the country to have a wing of a ministry dedicated to music – viz., music task force.
In a place where it is not uncommon to find youngsters lured by gun for the alternative form of income & livelihood due to the absence of proper infrastructure to earn a honest living, the thought of dedicating a ministry to develop the music industry to provide that very alternative… quite a revolutionary idea indeed! And they do have abundance of local talent to make that idea a roaring success. For example, the examiners from UK who visited Dimapur’s music school ‘Hope Centre for Excellence’ ( affiliated to the Royal school of England) had observed that the centre is producing results which can be matched by only two music schools of London!
Nagaland is indeed a fascinating place – inhabited by the tribe known for their lore’s of fighting and valor. And at the same time, they are one of the most hospitable and welcoming lot of people that you can hope to find anywhere in the world… who perhaps thinks more with their heart rather than their head…you win their trust, and you are their friends for life!
The game of death had played a long innings in the hills and valleys of this haunting land. And the natural question that came to my mind time and again during our sojourn was how the inhabitants have coped with the years of old pain inflicted by the age old conflict… I knew that the question will not have any direct answers, yet I couldn’t help putting it to people we came across during our shoot. I will carry one particular answer, given by renowned social worker of Nagaland Mr. Niketu Iralu, in my heart for long. When Mr. Iralu was sent to Madras (now Chennai) for higher studies by his family, he was most dejected- believing that there could be no future for the Nagas. And he had a valid reason to be upset – after all the govt. had put his innocent father, a retired doctor, behind bars ‘for raising war against the country’ just because he was related to Angami Zapu Phizo- the person who had started the secessionist movement in Nagaland.
But his thought took a turn when in Madras he came into contact with the organisation which is now known as ‘initiative of change’ and got attracted to their seemingly crazy philosophy of ‘remaking the world, starting with own-self.’ Inspired by this ‘crazy’ idea, when Mr. Iralu ‘started his journey inwards’, he remembered that as a young boy he used to mistreat a classmate of his. The fact that the classmate belonged to a community that is racially and linguistically a ‘hopeless minority in Nagaland’ used to provide Mr. Iralu and his other Naga friends a false sense of bravado and invincibility. As a first step towards his new journey, he wrote an apology letter to that classmate of his… and he realized that for the first time he is taking an action to deal with his hate. ‘And during this journey of looking inward, I started getting answers to a lot of my questions’ – he stated with a humble smile…