KOTHANODI / The River of Fables (Dir. Bhaskar Hazarika, Assamese, 2015)

river of fablesA sour fruit that is really an unborn child, a young girl’s marriage to a python, a stepmother coerced by a demon are some of the folk tales or popular fables that form a major part of this impressive supernatural, horror compendium, the debut feature film of Bhaskar Hazarika. You could just as easily label this a feminist melodrama since the focus on the lives of four women, mainly connected by motherhood, depicts the nightmarish anxieties of the women in a pastoral mysticism. Hazarika imbues the fables with a horror in which rustic landscapes, transformed into a spectral one, craft a disquieting temperament. Hazarika is less occupied with narrative execution, favouring characterisation, themes and the construction of a specific and unsettling undercurrent. At the end, when the stories do connect, to the surface rises a terrifying cycle of ancient superstitions, rituals and alchemy seemingly anchored in an old historicism. Hazarika has a wonderful pictorial eye, evoking a magical realism, staging much of the action in the rich and beguiling sceneries of Majuli and Dergaon, superbly photographed by Vijay Kutty. Indie actors Seema Biswas and Adil Hussain appear in supporting roles. The film’s budget was partially raised through crowd funding. Kothanodi has been met with favourable reviews, having been screened at various film festivals including the London Film Festival in October.


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