A beautiful haunting love story

This powerful Assamese drama is a maniacal genius of director Bhaskar Hazarika, perfect for audiences who have retained a taste for the unusual and complexity

23 October 2021, 13:05

Last modification: October 23, 2021, 01:13 PM

Friends. Photo: Collected

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Friends. Photo: Collected

An anthropology student, Suman falls in love with a pediatrician, Nirmala. However, Nirmali is married to her high school sweetheart with an educated son. How is Suman going to enchant Nirmali to enter her life? Through ‘Aamis’, which translates to ‘meat’ in Assamese.

The film features its main characters Suman and Nirmali, played by Arghadeep Barua and Lima Das in the opening minutes. The scenes show a parallel of how Nirmali is confined to the mundane life of a mother and pediatrician, while Suman leads an adventurous life eating a whole goat in a jungle, which is doing a doctorate on the drinking habits of meat and traditions of the Northeast.

Meeting around a “meat”

The reason for their first meeting is also related to meat. On his first try, Suman’s vegetarian friend falls ill from eating too much mutton. Suman asks Nirmali for help with his treatment. Nirmali learns of the existence of the Sumans Meat Eating Club and lets her know that she is ready to taste their meat.

Nirmali’s acceptance of Suman’s passion immediately intrigues her, and he sends her a yellow lunchbox of wild rabbit meat where she expresses her mental block of not being able to eat with her bare hands. Unlike most people who find this “pretentious”, Suman is empathetic towards his problem, which gives Nirmali comfort. This link around a sumptuous meal, with a plate full of exotic meats, is the first in a long series.

While Suman slowly begins to develop feelings for Nirmali, he is unsure of Nirmali’s. She seems to be more in control of her feelings. She invites him to meet her husband, Deepak, a borderline narcissist, who believes he is an altruistic contributor to her society. He brags about his great sacrifices with his friends, holding a glass of wine. Deepak doesn’t bother to show interest in what others have to say unless it’s his praise.

Adultery or something else?

By introducing yourself to Deepak, you would begin to question the reality of Nirmali and Deepak’s love. However, Nirmala is against infidelity. In earlier scenes with his married friend who is engaged in an affair, it is shown how Nirmali does not support this idea. She subtly belittles her friend for engaging with another man.

At this point, you wouldn’t mind if these two engage in adultery. Unfortunately, the story does not take such a predictable path and goes beyond the taboo. What awaits you is a strange confrontation of expression of love, a supernatural way to connect with your lover without touching him.

In an attempt to do an experiment to see if there are other ways to be intimate with your lover, Suman unleashes something more devastating to Nirmali. Nirmali deliberately falls into this act of madness and gradually loses all control of herself. She proves her own words by saying that he once said to Suman’s friend, “Meat is not the problem, gluttony is.”

The guy behind this masterpiece

Aamis is the second film by Bhaskar Hazarika which won a national award for his first film, Kothanodi – The River of Fables in 2015. Kothanodi, Simply Described, is a live action film about the stories of Thakurmar Jhuli.

While in Kothanodi, Bhaskar explores the stories of four women in different tropes of human nature, Aamis questions the very definition of love. What can be considered abnormal in love, when there is no universal definition of “normal”?

Bhaskar, who is also the film’s writer, picked two debutantes for Aamis who made the entire film with their stellar acting performances. Her portrayal of this unconventional bond that builds on their shared love for food is puzzling. You may find it intolerably disturbing while still being fascinated by the unfolding film.

Aamis is a daring genius of Bhaskar Hazarika and he leans on his slow revelations. As the film progresses, it slowly pulls out of its ‘The Lunchbox’ atmosphere and takes the darkest turn it can get. The director plays with your expectations throughout the film and he really gets there. Either the movie will leave you with a loathing for meat, or it will leave you bewildered by the non-traditional form of love. Watch Aamis at your own risk.

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