Chose to Doff My Hat to 'Sanskaar' for Aamis As I Had to Deal With CBFC: Bhaskar Hazarika
Bhaskar Hazarika's Aamis is competing in the India Gold section of the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival. He talks about his creative process, funding and the censor board.
Image courtesy: Facebook/Bhaskar Hazarika
Director Bhaskar Hazarika's new film Aamis offers a complex look at the dual nature of human--toggling between desire and self-control. Aamis seems more ambitious and more difficult to analyse than Hazarika's first film, Kothanodi, though no less of a tremendous work.
The film tells the story of Nirmali, a married pediatrician in her late 30s, who meets Sumon, a young PhD student researching food habits in the former's hometown, Guwahati. The two quickly discover a shared love for meat. As their meetings become more frequent, their relationship takes a dark turn they hadn't expected.
As Aamis is all set to compete in the India Gold section of the Jio MAMI 21st Mumbai Film Festival, we caught up with Bhaskar for a freewheeling chat.
Aamis is a very brave and unconventional attempt. It constantly reflects on the anxieties that lie below the surface of our collective cultural norms. How did you ensure that you were able to put across your point, retained your vision, while also making sure that you got the funding for the project?
Although I do humbly accept epitaphs like "brave" and "bold" for the film, I must point out that at no point in the development of the project was that the focus. We never set out to make a film that is brave. In fact this word has an ominous ring to it in the India of today! All I wanted to do was tell a strange and weird love story that makes audiences introspect. I consider myself extremely lucky to have Poonam and Shyam as my producers, because both "got" the story immediately and backed the vision of the film with their full might all the way till today.
There are meanings and metaphors all over the place in Aamis exploring desire, love and temptation. Was it a deliberate move to keep these emotions suggestive in the movie?
With a film like Aamis, you can either go full French, or doff your hat to "sanskaar." I chose the latter because I make films in India and have to deal with the CBFC. That said, I have always believed in the power of suggestion over visual representation, and it worked well in Aamis so I want to continue to explore it in the future. In that sense, you could say yeah it was a deliberate move.
Was there any kind of target audience in your mind?
The target audience for the film was never really a factor in the writing. Aamis is a film about love that goes rancid, I guess that means the audience is pretty much anyone who has ever fallen in and especially out of love.
Are you able to tell the stories you intend to?
It is a great time to be a filmmaker. Fascist forces are ascendant throughout the world, and injustice and oppression are the primal catalysts for works of art. One just has to be subversive and guerrilla about it.
Have you ever found yourself censoring things in your own work because you worried about the backlash it could create?
It is second nature with artistes in India to self-censor themselves because of the tyranny of institutions like the CBFC and the stifling social and political environment that enables it. It used to trouble me a lot initially, but there are many ways to circumvent it.
With Village Rockstars, Bulbul Can Sing, Bhoga Khirikee, Aamis and many more Assamese films garnering critical acclaim around the world, do you see this translate into something more concrete in terms of getting finances for your projects?
Someone just told me the other day that only the Malayalees, Marathis and Assamese are making cinema these days in India. This is such a great thing to hear about Assamese cinema, which has gone through a long period of darkness. I sincerely hope this results in more funding for our films.
How to get the most out of a film festival like MAMI as an independent filmmaker?
MAMI is fast becoming India's premier platform to showcase the best of Indian cinema. So one gets to meet some of the brightest filmmakers in the country today. That in itself is a huge opportunity for indie filmmakers to network and learn from each other. The other thing about MAMI is that the festival is held in Bombay. A lot of industrywallahs frequent screenings, which can translate into something that may set up one's next film.
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