A dark, twisted romance cen­tred around food, Aamis is that one In­dian film to watch this year

India Today - - LEISURE - —Farah Yameen

There is a pop­u­lar no­tion that there are films that be­long to main­stream cinema and those that be­long to the fes­ti­val circuit. Bhaskar Hazarika’s Aamis, which re­cently pre­miered at the Tribeca Film Fes­ti­val, tricks you into believ­ing you are watch­ing the first kind—mel­low and pre­dictable—until it firmly breaks ev­ery known mould. The story be­gins with a young man, Su­mon, meet­ing an older, mar­ried wo­man, Nir­mali. Ex­pect­edly, a romance is kin­dled— the wo­man re­fus­ing to ac­knowl­edge that it is romance, the boy search­ing Google for the mean­ing of ‘pla­tonic

re­la­tion­ship’. They bond over his pas­sion for meat and her will­ing­ness to sam­ple all flesh. Ev­ery­thing is game. Things be­gin in­no­cently, leisurely, and then with­out warn­ing, the film slips into hor­ror.

Aamis is the hor­ror next door. Set in sub­ur­ban Guwahati, its lead char­ac­ters are an unas­sum­ing pae­di­a­tri­cian and a young an­thro­pol­ogy scholar study­ing meat-eat­ing prac­tices in the North­east. “The idea,” Hazarika ex­plains, “was to sit­u­ate the film in a nor­mal ev­ery­day stage, which we felt could help in achiev­ing plau­si­bil­ity in what is ad­mit­tedly a bizarre story.”

The un­fold­ing of its plot is rem­i­nis­cent of ev­ery gory crime, from Nithari to Aarushi, that sud­denly happens to ‘some­one like us’. “The film’s story,” Hazarika elab­o­rates, “was also in­formed by this niche kink I stum­bled across on the in­ter­net called ‘vo­rarephilia’, which ba­si­cally in­volves fan­ta­sis­ing about get­ting in­gested by your lover.”

Nei­ther Su­mon nor Nir­mali are willing to bend the rules of mar­riage. Dread­ing the il­le­git­i­mate touch, their de­sires play out in a per­versely ex­treme in­ter­pre­ta­tion of what it means to be in­side one’s lover. The hor­ror lies in their non­cha­lance. And the ge­nius of the film is that nei­ther of the char­ac­ters be­trays any alarm over their twisted pas­sion, even as au­di­ences’ stom­achs are roil­ing. And as their ‘romance’ plays out, Hazarika con­stantly calls out the grey moral­i­ties of mar­riage and adul­ter­ous re­la­tion­ships.

Aamis is a ro­mance­hor­ror of re­mark­able nu­ance. The As­samese film is ex­pected to re­lease in some the­atres later this year—and if you have a taste for the un­usual, you must de­vour this one.

Aamis be­gins as an in­no­cent, leisurely romance and, with­out warn­ing, slips into hor­ror

SCARY GOOD Set in Guwahati, Aamis is the hor­ror next door

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