A love story & some meat for thought

What can be the height of passion? If it is director Bhaskar Hazarika who is asking the question, it would be advisable not to wreck your brain for an answer as he sets the bar in his latest movie Aamis.
Aamis, which means ‘non-vegetarian’ in English, is a dark love story where food is the centrifugal force that brings together paediatrician Nirmali Saikia, played by Sattriya dancer and doctor Lima Das, and PhD scholar Sumon, played by musician Arghadeep Barua.
Sumon has a ‘Meat Club’ whose members’ motive is not only to be adventurous about meat but also to make sure that what they eat is fresh and authentic. The idea of a meat club tickles Nirmali’s interest who would not mind becoming a little adventurous herself.
This brings her closer to Sumon, who is a distraction in her otherwise monotonous and lonely life. Married with a child, Nirmali is conscious about the changing contours of emotions and she ensures that there is no physical closeness because in her words, “Meat is not the problem, gluttony is.”
But how long does it take before one reaches the edge and starts straddling the line between hunger and gluttony?
As the meat-eating expedition continues, Sumon wants Nirmali to experience the “fundamental taste of life”. It is here that the story, which has been a normal love story so far, unravels the dark side of passion. As Nirmali develops an insatiable hunger (an addiction as she describes it that is making her restless and intruding her sanity) for the forbidden, Sumon vows to end the vicious circle but gets entangled in cannibalism, crime and conventionality.
The film, if watched once, will leave you with a gnawing hunger to know more about the lovers and the emotional mesh around them, to ask why and how. The second time may be apparently satiating but the craving deep inside refuses to die.
There is where Hazarika succeeds with his unique story. He adds a new dimension to love and passion and changes the way one perceives them. There is no end to hunger as there is no explanation to passion.
“The word normal does not have a universal definition,” says Sumon when Nirmali’s husband talks about ‘normal’ food habit. And Hazarika proves it with conviction, be it in love or eating meat. The darkness in his story is enlightening and encourages one to open up to unconventionality.
“We were looking to do an innovative love story… I wanted to keep it very new and fresh,” the national award-winning director told The Shillong Times.
The freshness of the movie is not only in its story but also the lead actors, who are first-timers. Das’s portrayal of Nirmali with all the emotional upheavals is laudable. Barua’s youthfulness and innocence complement Nirmali’s maturity and restraint.
In this age of food politics, one may find a hint of rebellion in the movie but Hazarika reiterates that he never thought of giving a political colour to the love story.
Director Dominic Sangma says he loved every bit of the film. “In Bhaskar Hazarika’s Aamis, cannibalism is just a pretext to explore the complexity of human relationship which is something not easy to name it, what is shown on the screen is just a tip of the iceberg of what is being hidden under many layers of emotions that we go through while sitting inside the theatre, emphatically it reminded me of the characters of Claire Denis’s Trouble Every day. A good film cannot be spoiled by the spoiler.”
The movie can make you aversive to meat or stoke your curiosity about different types of meat, their taste, texture and above all, addiction.
The film opened in 28 screens in Assam and released in six cities, including Shillong. The one cinema that was screening Aamis has decided to extend the show for another week on popular demand. “Many colleges were having exams and the students requested me to extend the time. And I do not regret my decision,” says Eva Kurbah, the proprietor of Gold Cinema.
Aamis is also available on Moviesaints in cities where there are no shows.

~ NM

See Sunday Shillong for
the interview of editor
Shweta Rai Chamling & sound designer Gautam Nair

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