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Interview Assam

KIFF 2017: Adil Hussain was my teacher, says co-star Urmila Mahanta

There is no message being conveyed through Kothanodi, says the actress. It's just an interpretation of Assamese folk tales.

Urmila Mahanta receives a certificate from Sanal Kumar Sasidharan. Photo: Kazhcha Film Forum

Manigandan KR

Actress Urmila Mahanta, who was visibly pleased with the shock-and-awe effect her film Kothanodi produced on those who watched it at the first Kazhcha Indie Film Fest, said she would definitely go back and tell her director about the feedback she got at the festival.

Speaking to Cinestaan.com after the screening, Mahanta, who had presented the film on behalf of director Bhaskar Hazarika, said, "Kothanodi is an adaptation of four well-known Assamese fables. To be sure, these are not exact adaptations but the director has presented his interpretation of them."

Asked to explain this a little more, she said, "If you see, in the film, the character of Ketaki has a vegetable [ortega] following her which you eventually get to know is her child. The child appears to have food and then goes back into the ortega. In the original fable, a prince sees a princess taking bath in a pond and then going back into an ortega."

Some of the stories in the film have disturbing scenes and endings that are difficult to digest. What was the message her director was trying to send across to audiences through the film?

"My director never wished to give any message," Mahanta said. "This is his adaptation of Assamese folk tales. As you know, folk tales have different meanings and can be interpreted by various people differently."

The film, which has women as both protagonists and antagonists, has come in for widespread appreciation from audiences ever since it was released worldwide last year. In fact, it even won the Rajat Kamal award for Best Assamese Film last year.

"When my director approached me with this script, I watched the pitching trailer and decided that I would do the project," Mahanta said. "When the director informed me that the film would have Seema Biswas and Adil Hussain, I jumped up and said I am on board!"

The actress continued, "We had a three-day workshop with Seema Biswas before beginning work. I also feel honoured to have worked with Adil Hussain as he was my teacher at the Pune film institute."

Finally, talking about how difficult it was to play the role of Ketaki, Urmila Mahanta said, "I am someone who believes that acting is reacting. When you have an ortega as co-star for the most part, how do you react? But it was a wonderful experience to act with my teacher Adil Hussain."

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Kazhcha Indie Film Festival