In Aamis (Ravening; English: Meat), the central male character Googles ‘platonic love’ soon after he admits to himself that he has fallen for an older woman. It is a hint to the type of turn that the relationship between the two characters will then take as the story proceeds, so beautifully it feels like you are having a full-course meal with an unlimited supply of your favorite dishes. It paves the way for the genuinely novel plot as the characters find themselves losing self-control and being hypnotized by their own desires.
The female character utters how gluttony is not a good thing right at the beginning and that gives another hint to what might ensue, despite the sweet little spark that burgeons between them as director Bhaskar Hazarika puts them into a traditional rink of relationships. The story about a young anthropology scholar and a successful pediatrician who is married, with a kid, is as eccentric as the idea of squeezing a type of bug, oozing all its liquids out, and then munching on it either to satisfy hunger or get an intoxicating trip. But what sets Aamis apart from other romantic stories chafing physical and emotional boundaries between the participants is that it gives you a new definition of platonic love.
The concept of sharing one’s body with another person takes a new meaning here and one that corroborates that carnivorous makeup of homo sapiens. This Assamese crime drama makes the normal likable characters explore the various possibilities that the idea of ‘edible meat’ brings to their table as well as their palate whether it is trying out bat meat or avoiding broiler chicken for organic alternatives.
The enterprising cast of Lima Das (beautiful and so emotive) and Arghadeep Baruah (with a dovelike performance) push the movie forward and make it far more delightful than it actually is, often shooting bulbs of original humour at you. With themes such as acute carnivory, illicit love affairs, societal dogma, and psychosis forming the bizarre story and making you think about your own eating habits as well as the relationship with your loved ones, Aamis makes you feel like life is, after all, absurd.
But not as absurd or obnoxious or outlandish as the things that happen in the final 30 minutes of this film that is hard to describe without using up all the synonyms for the word ‘bizarre’. It is nothing like you have ever seen before in Indian cinema. But vegans, strict vegetarians (lots of sequences involving meat-based foods but no violence or gore), and environmentalists are cautioned that they should go in with an open mind. But go in they should for this is about more than the love for meat-eating.
(Watched and reviewed at its India premiere at the 21st MAMI Mumbai Film Festival.)