After the success of Season 2 of Four More Shots Please! Sayani Gupta is back with a bang in a film titled Axone that explores racial stereotyping and prejudice that is told through humour and food.

Axone (pronounced 'Akhuni' is named after the fermented soya bean staple typical to some parts of North-East India and known for its pungent smell) is a Hindi film, now streaming on Netflix. The film is based on a group of friends from North-East India wherein Sayani essays the role of one of those friends Upasana a Nepali from Manipur.

Sayani and gang

All the friends put their best foot forward to make their staple dish (Axone) to celebrate the wedding of a friend. The film touches upon a very important subject of racism and brutality in a subtle way. Directed by Nicholas Kharkongor, the film was screened at the Mumbai Film Festival (MAMI) in 2019, besides being feted at festivals outside the country.

Sayani Gupta

In an exclusive chat with International Business Times India, Sayani Gupta talks about her reasons to do the film 'Axone', joys of shooting with the cast that was majorly from North-East India and more. 

Excerpts from the interview:

On why she did the film 'Axone'

Initially, I was scared to take it up as I was venturing into something which is very different from me. North-East films are still not on a national level. But Axone is a mainstream film. I found the script very authentic and very funny. Humour is a great way to change minds, and if one talks about serious matters through humour or satire, it tends to make a greater impression and mould more hearts. It's a very powerful tool, I feel.

On film with such an important subject skipping a theatrical release

View this post on Instagram

#axone releasing Tomorrow on @netflix_in @netflix worldwide It's a comedy / satire about Racism - a story of a day set in Delhi about a bunch of Northeastern kids, trying to make a dish with Axone for their friend's wedding. It's a beautifully layered food-com about politics of food, race, culture and what we understand by us and them. But end of the day, we are all one and we all need love and acceptance. It's started as a small film but managed to create a huge buzz just when the trailer came out and soooo many of you have been writing in and waiting for its release. It's travelled and won at numerous Film Festivals across the globe. And finally you all can watch it! Thank you everyone who made this possible through sweat and tears. And thank you everyone who has been supporting this film. This mammoth task with so many difficulties wouldn't have been possible without the constant kindness of so many people. I am so overwhelmed with your love already. My beautiful team and a crackling cast who I now consider friends and goof-mates for life! @nicholaslemtor wrote this hilarious script and directed it with so much care and detail. @seen_by_p shot it stunningly! @tajdarjunaid whose music is magic! @paponmusic thank you for coming and supporting us! My crazy fam @linlaishram @merenla_imsong @mi.su0 @dralhatenzin @roganjosh__ @lanuakum111 @yuri.luikham @rameshpanda.mua for doing our make up @binurairai Marya for doing our hair but being my constant support & language coach. @the_cultured_junglee for coaching me with Nepali & being so helpful! @bimalgautam15 for just extending all support, bringing me his mom's clothes and jewellery and being so kind and literally opening up the doors of @cultured_delhi for us, which we totally exploited! People of #humayunpur who supported us through the filming and feeding us and accepting us as their own. It's an extremely relevant & a vibrant entertaining film! Please watch and tell us what you think.

A post shared by Sayani (@sayanigupta) on

The film was made in 2019, and it travelled film festivals before it streamed on Netflix. Talks were on to show the film in North-East India as well but because of protest on CAA, the idea was dropped. We were going to release the film in April 2020 in theatres, however, owing to COVID-19 the film directly took the digital route.

On the preparations she did to ace the dialect

In the film, I play Nepali who is from Manipur. It was tough to play and I had to work very hard to get into the groove and ace the dialect and the slang. Thankfully my friend who is a Nepali helped me a lot, we did a detailed work with the dialect and the slang, in fact, I added a lot of slang by myself, and then hairstylist Maria was my dialect coach on the sets.

On off-screen bond with the actors who are from North-East India

 Most of the cast and crew in Axone probably 98 per cent were from the North-East. The only people who were not from the region were Vinay Pathak, Dolly Ahluwalia and Rohan Joshi who anyway play north Indians in the film. For my part, I do know that they had considered other actors from the North-east. It just so happened that they liked my audition. We were all very cordial on the sets and have become friends.

Cooking the dish axone


 We were shooting at a North-east region in Humayunpur (Delhi), where most of the people are people from the North-east. We cooked the dish axone over a few days. The dish does smell and by the end of the day, I started smelling of axone. So axone is a flavour enhancer which is like a soybean. I also ate this dish a lot while I was shooting and explored the areas around.

Is Four More Shots Season 3 underway!

We were supposed to start shooting for the new season on 15 March then by 31st March, but then the lockdown kept extending so now we are unsure as to when we will start shooting.

 Watch the trailer of Axone below: