Bhaskar Hazarika (director)
Metanormal Motion Pictures (studio)
115 minutes (length)
17 October 2015 (released)
23 September 2015
Based around a series of events in Burhi Aair Sadhu (Grandma's Tales), this is the tale of four woman. We meet Senehi (Zerifa Wahid), possessed by a demon or pyschotic. She hates her step daughter and beats her, finally she is driven to plot murder.
He husband Devinath (Adil Hussain), has been sent away on business and so she is alone with the girl. He encounters a woman called Keteki (Urmila Mahanta) who has given birth to an outenga (elephant apple), which rolls around after her. Dhoneshwari (Seema Biswas) is a rich land owner and wants her daughter married to a python. The girl will suffer for this and pain might befall everyone around her. Finally we meet Malati (Asha Bordoloi) who gives birth to a child but now must stop her own husband Poonai (Kopil Bora) from burying the child as a sacrificed, like the three previous babies she has had.
Kothanodi takes its very centre from the newly emerging female identity within Indian society. Though based on classic tales, they really are about the place and role of woman from tradition to technological revolution. Yes it is true to see the film as an analysis of the classic vs modern discourse. Tradition is being challenged and often mutated by modern ideas. Within these modern mutations some of these interpretations lead to odd operating states, such as the independance of woman to fulfill roles from classic era. Woman are allowed to shop and produce but have to still adhere to the role of domestic person in the exterior of Indian cities. The thing about Kothanodi however is that it subverts the convention by making us ask, what do we want from each woman. This makes for some very interesting responses to its brilliant blend of reality and magic realism.
The strange world of blending magic and reality actually allows for the above question to become a parable. The question becomes more about what you have brought to the table and of the viewers own gender ideals. It also is darker than black and Indian cinema has at its heart much of this. These traditional stories are fantastic at slicing away and pocking fun at authority in a very honest and unrelented way. Subversive legends like this, have allowed for very current and important subjects to be raised and dissected. Take its topic of mental health in the most vulnerable, the role of sex and sexuality in woman. It has at its core a very hard view of the power of fear and the constant desire to escape the changing world by reasserting tradition. I saw that as a dig at the Modi government. This film is a must watch for anyone that wants to open up a new conversation on Indian cinema and magic reality.