Kothanodi (The River of Fables) adapts its story from four fables contained in the Assamese folk tales compendium – Buri Ai’r Xadhu (Grandma’s Tales). Compiled by our foremost literary luminary – Laxminath Bezbarua – in 1911, these folk tales are well known and much loved by generations of Assamese children. But while the stories in Grandma’s Tales have traditionally been marketed as children’s fables, Kothanodi pushes them towards darker, unorthodox directions – where the magic is real, illusions starker, emotions rawer, and horror more visceral.
It is a film about four shades of motherhood. In the film, you will see a mother who for her own pride condemns her daughter to a horrible death. A woman who has given birth, but is still not a mother. A meek mother who finally takes a stand to protect her child. And a mother who never wanted to be a mother in the first place. The four folk tales referenced in the film are: Tejimola, Champawati, The Outenga Maiden, and Tawoi.
Kothanodi can be looked upon as another example of the dark undertones that lie under the surface of almost every children’s story in the world; as part of the global trend of alternative adaptations of classic folk tales, such as Snow White and the Huntsman (2012), Jack the Giant Slayer (2013, based on the fable Jack and the Beanstalk), and Maleficent (2014, a deconstruction of the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty), visualising dark subtexts in familiar stories.