April 26, 2019
by Carla Hay
Directed by Bhaskar Hazarika
Assamese with subtitles
World premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City on April 26, 2019.
A married mother is seduced into an emotional love affair by a good-looking younger man—and things take a dark turn. It sounds like the plot of a Lifetime movie, but “Aamis” is not a predictable TV movie of the week—far from it. The twist in “Aamis” is so disturbing that it would be too freaky for Lifetime. It’s best for anyone seeing this movie to be blissfully unaware of the spoiler information that’s revealed in the second half of the story.
“Aamis,” which is set in modern-day India, is the first Assamese-language film to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. What can be told without any spoilers is that the secretive love affair in the movie starts out innocently enough. Nirmali “Niri” Saikia (played by Lima Das) is a successful pediatrician who’s in a fairly uneventful marriage to another doctor. Niri’s husband Dilip (played by Manash Das) is a workaholic who is frequently away from home on business, leaving Niri to raise their young son mostly on her own. There’s no indication that Dilip is a bad husband and father. He’s just become inattentive to Niri, and it’s led to stagnancy and boredom that Niri feels not just about her marriage about also about her life.
When she meets grad student Sumon Boruah (played by Arghadeep Baruah), Niri is ready for something new and exciting in her life. Sumon, who is a long-haired bohemian type, has an obvious crush on Niri, who initially plays it cool and basks in the attention that the younger man gives her. Sumon is researching food habits—specifically meat eating—as part of his Ph.D. studies. It’s an excuse for him to arrange foodie dates with Niri so that they can sample unusual types of meat. Sumon encourages Niri to be more adventurous in what she eats, and he makes the bold claim that any animal can be eaten under the right circumstances.
Niri, who has a prim and proper image, makes it clear to Sumon and others who ask about their relationship that she wants to keep it strictly platonic. But her lingering glances with Sumon and her increasing anticipation for their next meet-up tell otherwise. It isn’t long before Sumon and Niri open up to each other emotionally, but Niri won’t let Sumon cross the line for them to become lovers. Meanwhile, Sumon becomes increasingly uncomfortable with suppressing his growing feelings for Niri, and it no longer becomes enough for him to take her to restaurants. He begins giving her gifts—artfully made gourmet meals that he has prepared himself.
The gourmet food gifts are a turning point in Sumon and Niri’s relationship. And when Sumon tells Niri what he did to prepare the meals, their relationship reaches the point of no return. The last 15 minutes of “Aamis” deliver a knockout punch that will leave viewers feeling both nauseated and emotionally haunted over the choices made in the name of love.