Aamis review: More bizarre than Andrew Zimmern’s tastebuds

Though surreal, director Bhaskar Hazarika’s tale of human greed is creatively appetizing

Rating: 4 / 5

By Mayur Lookhar

Aamis [Assamese]

Director: Bhaskar Hazarika

Cast: Lima Das, Arghadeep Baruah, Neetali Das

Arghadeep Baruah and Lima Das in Aamis (2019)

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed”, said the late Mahatma Gandhi.

The great Mahatma’s come and gone but there never is an end to human greed.  

National award winning director Bhaskar Hazarika presents a unique, depraved tale of human greed in his second (Assamese) film Aamis [ravening]. 

Nirmali Saikia [Lima Das], a Guwahati doctor forms a close bond with Sumon [Arghadeep Baruah], a young Ph.d student. The platonic relationship is built on their love for zesty meaty food.  Sumon’s doing a thesis on the voracious appetite of the people in the North East, especially their taste for different foods.  The insatiable greed of Nirmali though leads the duo on a sinister path.

With food at the fulcrum of this story, it’s hard for us to not throw up some gluttonous text. Though surreal, this no-interval tale of human greed is creatively appetizing. Look beyond Nirmali’s gluttony, and you see a loyal wife, a loving mother, but a lonely woman that longs for affection. The aromatic conversations with Sumon truly awakens the epicure in Nirali.  No matter how much we’ve evolved, humans are still slave to greed.

The complex story may not be edible for the faint hearted, but the highly gripping screenplay draws you to Aamis like flies to honey.  For large parts, you expect the story to play along standard lines, but once it takes a dark shape,  Aamis gives you the jitters. For some though, Nirmali’s psychosomatic behaviour may trigger an hypnotic effect.

Credit to Lima Das for an emotionally gripping show in her maiden film.  Daughter of popular Assamese singer Mridula Das, Lima’s a dentist and a Sattriya dancer, too.  It’s very brave on the part of a doctor to be playing such a character.  For a first time actress, she shows no nerves at all.   Her hazel eyes, infectious smile casts a spell on you.  It’s backed by her natural ability in front of the camera.  Das emotes the different shades, moods of Nirmali impeccably.

Like Das, Arghadeep Baruah, too, makes his debut. So, infatuated is he by Nirmali, that Sumon is prepared to do anything to rassasy his beloved.  Aamis turns the phrase, ‘A way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’ on its head, befittingly belly here. The self-consuming obsession is disturbing, yet Baruah evokes a certain empathy for Sumon. His natural physical appeal (Mongoloid features) add to his overall charm.

Lima Das and Baruah are complimented with a fine show by the supporting cast – Manash Das as Dilip Saikia, Sagar Saurabh as Dr.Elias, Sumon’s best friend.  

Loneliness binds Nirmali and her best friend Jhumi [Neetali Das].  While it’s food that tempts Nirmali into a platonic relationship with Sumon, the childless Jhumi finds comfort in the arm of another man.

The fine story, performance is backed by soothing music by Toronto-based  band Quan Bay. The classical piano style background score is a delight here.

The sense of inevitability creeps in literally, and you wished the climax could have come in a bit earlier.  Perhaps, this stems from the uneasiness of its insanely surreal yet captivating narrative.

With its unique, insanely surreal plot, Aamis many not be too palatable for the herbivorous masses.  Aamis producer Anurag Kashyap summed it wonderfully when he stated that he has never seen anything like this coming from India ever before.  That was the popular sentiment when we came out of the screen.  Geez, Nirmali’s fettish for food is more bizarre than Andrew Zimmern’s tastebuds.

Aamis had premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. The film releases in India on 22 November.

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