Review Assam

Aamis review: Bhaskar Hazarika's surreal film is an engrossing trip into a dangerous romance

Release Date: 22 Nov 2019 / 01hr 48min

Cinestaan Rating

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  • Direction:
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  • Story:

Shriram Iyengar

Visually beautiful, crafted with care, Aamis is a tale that draws you in with its beauty to a thrilling finale. 

If music be the food of love, said Shakespeare, play on. Bhaskar Hazarika takes the idea and transforms it into a tale of love and all-consuming obsession that is as disturbing as it is enthralling.

The visual beauty of Aamis is only rivalled by the dramatic escalation of the story in the third act, one which might not suit everyone's palate.

When paediatrician Nirmali Saikia (Lima Das) stumbles on PhD student Sumon (Arghadeep Baruah), it sets off a platonic romance that is sweet. Sumon repays the doctor's kindness with new dishes of meat, a product of his ongoing doctoral research into the many different types of meat used as food across the Northeast.

Trapped in a stagnant marriage, Nirmali finds this adventure through food irresistible and is drawn to the young student. Both seek intimacy and find it through food. Till one day, Sumon ups the level and sets in motion a catastrophe that cannot be reversed.

Hazarika's tale unravels with a slow pace that lulls you into confidence. The soundscape by Gautam Nair and the cinematography by Riju Das have quite a contribution to make to that end.

The film's beautiful opening is a hook, and it is also beautifully connected to the key climactic moment. Hazarika explores the romance beautifully, not allowing it to wander down the familiar, thus keeping it fresh.

It is easy to identify with Sumon and empathize with Nirmali. But the director tests this very empathy through his plot as the story progresses.

The drama in Aamis is controlled and allowed to erupt at the right moment. Perhaps the only flaw would be that the climax takes a little longer to arrive than expected.

The story raises some important questions about the nature of intimacy and its suppression. The scenes that describe the many meats, the processes, and their justification also sow doubts in the audience's mind. This is where the trouble arises. And also where the skill of the storyteller emerges more distinctly.

Hazarika avoids passing judgement, allowing the audience to form its own conclusions. The performances of Lima Das and Arghadeep Baruah are effective and captivating. The innocence and naivety of Baruah is contrasted by the sharp intelligence of Das. Her transformation from subdued, civilized doctor to the terrifying eventuality is stunning. The macabre humour that arises out of this transformation is as funny as it is scary. 

Despite that, the film is engaging and enthralling in equal measure. Quite the treat, albeit with an acquired taste.

Aamis was screened at the 21st MAMI Mumbai Film Festival on 23 October 2019 and is being screened at the 19th Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles from 20–27 May 2021.


Related topics

MAMI Mumbai Film Festival IFFLA

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