Aamis (Ravening) opens with a meet cute and a Meat Club. PhD student studying meat-eating habits in Northeastern India Sumon (Arghadeep Baruah) needs a doctor for his friend. The neighborhood pediatrician Nirmali (Lima Das) agrees to help Sumon’s adult friend despite it being her day off, saying, “Perfect. Just what I needed Sunday morning.” She refuses traditional payment, but when Sumon tells her about his “Meat Club” that slaughters and cooks their own animals, she can’t resist trying some.
He brings rabbit to her clinic. Soon they’re talking about all the different meats they want to try — dog, cat, bat, a bug that needs to have the hallucinogenic juices squeezed out before consumption — and finding the weirdest one they can. It’s oddly romantic, but it wouldn’t be a story without a catch: Nirmali is married.
Nirmali’s sister Jumi (Neetali Das) is having a more illicit affair. She and Sumon’s best friend Elias (Sagar Saurabh) keep asking the lovers if they’re having sex but they aren’t. They’ve replaced carnal pleasures with carnivorous ones.
Nirmali’s husband, Dilip (Manash K Das), has been away. He’s a doctor as well, but it calls him away for weeks at a time. Dilip makes a surprise return with a crop of yams to contrast with Sumon’s meats, gloating, “All these years and you still can’t predict me.” When Nirmali tells him that she’s been going out to eat with Sumon, Dilip says she’s got to bring him by the house. When Sumon arrives, Dilip brags that he once waded through chest deep water to put an end to a cholera outbreak on the other side of a river. Sumon replies that some would consider the leeches that swelled up on Dilip a delicacy.
The movie functions as a realistic drama for the first hour. Nirmali is in a bad spot, caught between a self-aggrandizing husband who leaves for months at a time and a charming young man who brings culinary adventures into her life. Near the end of the second act, the movie shifts genres. The Meat Club, now with only two members, decide to eat exactly what you were worried they were going to eat.
It’s gross as hell. Aamis director/writer Bhaskar Hazarika elects to keep the goriest moments off screen. It’s a good choice, because it would be impossible to film some of the later scenes as more disgusting than a viewer could imagine them. Implication can be more powerful than special effects.
Hazarika slips in some dream sequences during the grossest moments instead. That choice focuses the audience’s attention on the character’s emotional states rather than what they’re chewing. It’s a good choice because, like the excellent Raw, Aamis is more interested in the symbolism than physical reality.
The subtitles have some minor technical problems. They’re white text placed over sometimes white backgrounds, rendering them difficult to read at times.
Peel away the meat club and the sick things Nirmali and Sumon do to satisfy their cravings and what’s left of Aamis is the love story core. Das and Baruah have phenomenal chemistry, so much so that I couldn’t help rooting for their characters. I wanted them to find their way. I wanted them to escape. I wanted them to find their happily ever after. The only thing I didn’t want was to eat for the next few hours.
Wicked Rating: 7/10
Director: Bhaskar Hazarika
Writer: Bhaskar Hazarika
Stars: Lima Das, Arghadeep Baruah, Neetali Das, Sagar Saurabh, Manash K Das
Release: April 26 2019 (Tribeca Film Festival)
Studio/Production Company: Metanormal Motion Pictures, Signum Productions, Wishberry Films
Length: 108 minutes