Matin Rey Tangu, Tubelight's pint-sized star, is a delight to watch. Cheeky and loquacious, the five-year-old from Itanagar had the audience in splits with his antics at a recent event to promote the film ahead of its release this Friday.
Let's face it, there are probably millions of kids in India who would give anything to work with Salman Khan, but when someone asked Matin what he remembered from the first day of shoot, he shared this gem: "I remember the place where I threw up. I puked because I couldn't breathe." Matin had all the answers.
The only moment during the entertaining presser he looked visibly confused was when a journalist asked him something that could easily be construed as ignorant and racist. A woman member of the press asked Matin: "Aap pehli baar India aye ho? (Is this your first time in India?)
"Kya?" asked the boy from Arunachal Pradesh, obviously not understanding the question. Realising her mistake, the journalist is heard rephrasing "aap pehli baar Mumbai aye ho? (Is this your first time in Mumbai?)"
But you don't ask our boy Matin a shady question and expect to get away without a burn. When Salman deliberately repeated the earlier question, with a slight roll of his eyes, Matin said: "India? Hum India per hi baithta hai, toh India par aayega hi kaise? (I live in India. How will I 'come' to India?)
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Within a few seconds, the actor transformed what could have been the event's most uncomfortable moment, to it's most amusing one. The tittering that could be heard was partly due to relief and mostly because of fond amusement at Matin's truth bomb. Racism towards the people who hail from the north eastern states is deeply entrenched in Indian society. People from the north east residing in Indian cities, especially in the north of the country, regularly face slurs and in some cases, even physical violence.
They face alienation in every aspect of their daily lives, and are routinely asked whether they are from India's neighbouring states. While the questioner should definitely have done her research about the cast of Tubelight, Matin, with his child's understanding of geography, said something poignant.
Tubelight is directed by Kabir Khan.