“Kothanodi” Review : Unsettling, Shocking, Brilliant adaptation of folktales

Kothanodi (2015/ Assamese/ Thriller/ Horror/ Sonyliv)

Four stories, adapted from folk lores, ranging from unsettling, bizarre, disturbing to outlandish, all wrapped up in brilliant spellbinding story telling in a dark rustic set up. 

Director – Bhaskar Hazarika

Writer – Dr.Arup Patangia Kalita, Bhaskra Hazarika

Cast – Adil Hussain, Kasvi Sharma, Zerifa Wahid, Kapil Bora, Asha Bordoloi, Seema Biswas, Urmila Mahanta

Plot

Based in old times , we see four different stories.

A man keeps burying his infants alive.

An outcasted woman is dealing with a stigma of giving birth to a vegetable, which is bizarrely live.

A woman is hell bent on marrying her daughter off to a python, all in greed for riches.

A woman hates her step daughter and plans to get rid of her.

Analysis

The film is so class apart that I have no idea what genre to categorise it under. It’s not entirely a horror but creepy and horrifying enough. It’s not a thriller but grips you like a glue and sets your pulse rate soaring. Its pace is like a slow burn but spell binding. Its setting is rustic and belongs to era gone by. You keep looking for a moral compass but find none. 

I could only place two films in this mapping – Bulbbul and Tumbbad (both based on folk lores and both dark and borderline horror)

But Kothanodi boasts of rustic and simplistic storytelling unlike the other two and yet accomplishes a feat.

The moment the film opens, I was blown away by two aspects, mind-blowing back ground music (Amarnath Hazarika) and the camerawork (Vijay Kutty).

The story telling is offbeat, absolutely gripping and takes you to a different world altogether. 

The cast & performances are as much the stakeholders as the music or the camerawork or the direction. 

The film is a perfect example of a brilliant piece of cinema which is supremely different and definitely not meant for the audience who do not have a palate for dark cinema. 

Bhaskar Hazarika, whose ‘Aamis’ I saw recently looks like someone who has a taste for bizarre and harsh. I see he likes to shock his audience and loves to leave them unsettled. But no denying the fact that he’s a master when it comes to keeping the audience hooked and his cinema is brilliant. No wonder, the awards & accolades. 

Performances 

Adil Hussain is an actor I deeply admire for not only his acting prowess but also for his varied and exclusive choices of films. He’s a man who is clearly in this stream for the sheer love of it. 

As the only male central character in the film, he holds fort amongst a superb set of actresses.

Kasvi Sharma, Urmila Mahanta, Seema Biswas and Asha Bardoloi are such a pleasure to watch and deliver a fantastic realistic portrayal that brings the stories to shine. 

As far deciphering the morale goes, it’s difficult. I could only call the stories as depictions of greed, malice, hatred, evil, superstition and witchcraft with motherhood being the only interconnecting aspect.

A must watch for those who love niche cinema, regional cinema, dark cinema and bizarre but brilliant cinema.

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