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FILM REVIEW: Aamis

FILM REVIEW: Aamis

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  10 Jan 2020 10:56 AM GMT

By Ambar Chatterjee

‘Aamis is a fascinating yet bizarre tale of love and consumption’

Cast: Lima Das, Arghadeep Baruah, Neetali Das, Sagar Saurabh

Director: Bhaskar Hazarika

Rating: 5/5 (5 out of 5 Stars)

Dr. Nirmali (Lima Das) is a pediatrician who lives with her kid. Her husband is a doctor too and spends most of his time away from home. She has a monotonous existence which starts every day with dropping off her son at the school bus stop and end with tucking him to bed at night. Whatever she does in between is strictly regular and almost nothing for herself. Sumon (Arghadeep Baruah) is a Ph.D. scholar of Anthropology with a thesis due on the meat-eating habits of the people of the north-eastern States. He is someone who is also a guy next door and does what is expected of most students of his age. He does his best in his studies and doesn’t forget to eat his fill with his friends and enjoy occasional sports. He is also a part of what he calls “The Meat Club” wherein he and his friends consume exotic meat all the way from its source to the stomach. Aamis is the extraordinary story that unfolds when these two ordinary individuals meet and start tasting exotic meat together as a departure from their mundane existence.

It is extremely difficult to review a film like Aamis without giving spoilers and that in this case would be blasphemous. Suffice is to say that I had fulfilled my appetite and at the same time repelled by Aamis in more ways than I thought I could be. Here is a film that starts off as a tender and apparently one-sided love story of a boy whose only way to connect with the woman he loves is by treating her to exotic meat all across the city. This is also the portion where the film tickles our funny bones more than once and we are really enjoying whatever is happening onscreen. At this juncture, all we care about is how the love story of the boy would turn out. Would the woman recognize his love and reward him with her affection? We know she is lonely but we also know that she hates adultery. This we know thanks to a brief sequence between her and her adulterous friend whom she advises to refrain from such wrongdoings.

There are a few hints here and there in Nirmali’s mannerisms that tell us that she might have taken a liking to Sumon. After their first meeting, she asks Sumon to pay her fees in the form of a serving from the spoils of his Meat Club. To me, it felt like a ploy to have him meet her again even though it was disguised to perfection. Things turn out exactly the way she wanted them to and Sumon turns up with some meat soon enough. As a viewer, our attention is now transfixed on how this poised and honorable lady finally gives in to Sumon’s romantic advances.

However, this is the trap that Bhaskar Hazarika is laying for you as, within a few more minutes, the story takes a bizarre turn that no one or no film ever could prepare you for. As much as I would like to write about it here, I have to refrain because this is the portion that makes Aamis different and shocking from anything that you have seen before in Indian cinema. I could never have believed that an Indian director, let alone an Assamese independent filmmaker, would tread into this territory and for that, Bhaskar Hazarika has my reverence.

Aamis is acted out between Lima Das and Arghadeep Baruah. Lima Das starts off as a poised, honorable and diva-like presence who literally glides through her routines. She looks and behaves in a manner that would make any man crave her in romantic and also some not-so noble ways. For Sumon it is love at first sight and it is explained well when he speaks about her with his friend. How she conducts herself may have also added to Sumon’s deep liking for her. Lima Is revolutionary in her interpretation of the character and Bhaskar Hazarika also has to be credited for bringing out the best in her. She doesn’t take a single wrong step and when she starts spiraling into an abyss it becomes that much more shocking as we have for so long seen her as a picture of serenity. These sequences would have never had such an impact if it was not for how we presumed her character to be. It goes beyond saying that she has the screen presence to transfix the viewers to the screen which helps her character immensely.

Arghadeep’s character ‘Sumon’ is the perfect foil for Lima Das’ character ‘Nirmali’. In an interview, he had mentioned that he is shy to even take a picture of himself. That is the kind of feel that we get from the character of Sumon and it really helps the character as he is supposed to be that way. He is soft, childlike, and shy but impulsive and plain out insane from time to time. How his character builds up, we interpret the guy in a certain way and as the story unfolds he takes a departure from it all in a manner similar to Lima Das’ character and therein lies the shock value of the film. We see him destroy himself in love and yet we don’t know for sure how to feel about him. The audience finds its voice through the character of Elias (Sagar Saurabh) who is Sumon’s closest friend and tries to keep talking sense into the man. Arghadeep Baruah brings out the nuances of the characters with such penchant that I couldn’t help but be in awe of his act. There is a scene in the end when he does something harrowing. I had to look away from the screen as I couldn’t watch him do such a thing. That is the kind of impact he had on me.

As was the case with folklore in Kothanodi, Bhaskar Hazarika has taken romance and turned it on its head. Yes! Aamis is a love story but it is a lot of other things too. It is about loneliness and the vacuum that builds up because of it. It is about feeling important and what happens when we feel that we are not so anymore. It is about doing something that is forbidden and enjoying it. More than anything it is about doing anything in love that we feel defines our love for our partners. How the film ends leaves a lot to be discussed and this will easily be one of the most hotly debated films of this year. Bhaskar Hazarika has yet again created a piece of art that is open to varied interpretations. There will be those who will hate it owing to its content and then there will be those like me who will love it for its content and sheer courage to address the most carnal and devilish desires hidden deep within us. No matter what, Aamis is a film that needs to be seen. Watch it and then decide whether to love it or hate it.

Feedback: aambar03@gmail.com

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