- Title: Extreme Nation
- Director: Roy Dipankar
- Genre: Documentary
- Publication date: April 3rd 2020
- Runtime: 81 min
- Production Company: Royville Media
Extreme Nation is a documentary that focuses on the subculture and the underground metal scene of the Indian subcontinent. It was made over a period of almost five years, with footage shot in multiple cities and towns across India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The documentary features interviews with and live performances from a wide variety of bands, such as the Bangladeshi black metal group Nafarmaan, the Pakistani grind/hardcore punk duo Multinational Corporations, the Indian band Syphilectomy and the Sri Lankan band Konflict. Besides many more obscure bands, the documentary also features comments from metal enthousiasts, journalists, a graphic artist, the head of an underground music label, etc.
They discuss multiple topics such as politics, religion and nationalism, which drives them towards more extreme forms of music. They also discuss the struggles of performing metal in countries that aren’t open towards such music and imagery. It is for example very difficult for a Pakistani band to obtain the necessary visas to travel and perform in India. The documentary also focuses on mounting social unrest due to recurring acts of violence such as terrorism and abuse of power. While the documentary has its fair share of grim passages, it’s also nice to see how metal music can unite people from all walks of life. When you go to an underground metal show, you are welcome no matter what country you come from, what religious background you have or what caste you belong to.
While I certainly found it to be an insightful and relevant documentary, I did have some issues with it. The movie suffers from a lack of narrative cohesion and it sometimes looked as if the footage had been put together randomly. Then again, putting together such an ambitious project must have been a daunting task for director Roy Dipankar, with hours of footage most likely ending up on the cutting room floor. Nevertheless, some guidance through voice-over narration would have been welcome. For example, something like Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen did with their documentaries Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey and Global Metal.
Instead, Dipankar takes us from location to location like a silent observer, with barely any guidance. He does provide us some structure and context, with title cards and some text occasionally appearing on the screen. Unfortunately, the information goes by so fast I found myself pausing and rewinding the movie a couple of times just to finish reading what I had missed. Once again, this issue could have been resolved through some basic voice-over narration.
Extreme Nation was produced independently without the support of some major production companies. This DIY approach makes the documentary less accessible for a wide audience, but that’s probably a good thing, given the movie’s subject material. The documentary’s (lack of) style is fitting because it perfectly reflects the subculture it is depicting. Just like the underground metal bands who also prefer to shy away from the limelight of mainstream media. The only downside to this bare-bones approach is that a couple of scenes feature some very poor audio quality, which can be a little distracting at times.
Despite its narrative and technical shortcomings, I’d still recommend giving Extreme Nation a watch. It’s interesting, relevant and it effectively provides an inside look at how metal music and culture is evolving and thriving in places you wouldn’t expect. You can find the movie on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/extremenation