A film based on events and characters from Assamese folklore is all set for its European premiere at the London Film Festival this week.
“Kothanodi”, which translates as “The River of Fables”, is the first feature film by Delhi-based director Bhaskar Hazarika and stars actor Seema Biswas and a string of well-known Assamese actors like Zerifa Wahid, Kopil Bora and Adil Hussain.
“This film is based on events and characters from Assamese folklore, from folk tales compiled into a book called ‘Grandma’s Tales’ by Assamese literary giant Laxminath Bezbaruah in 1911,” Hazarika told PTI.
“While these stories have been rendered before in film, radio, and theatre in Assam – ‘Kothanodi’ is perhaps the first instance where these stories are treated through a more realist lens, and what has come through are colder and darker narratives of what traditionally are known to be children’s stories,” he explained.
The film will be screened at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in central London on Saturday and the British Film Institute (BFI) on the banks of the river Thames on Sunday.
The multi-narrative script revolves around four shades of motherhood – about a mother who puts her daughter’s life at stake for her pride; a woman who has given birth, but still isn’t a mother; a mother who makes a stand for her child; and a mother who never wanted to be one in the first place.
It had its world premiere at Busan International Film Festival earlier this month, where the audience was overwhelmingly Korean.
“Even though they belong to a culture very far removed from Assam’s, the enthusiasm with which each show was greeted was very heartening. It shows that the core dramatic content in folk tales are universal. The London Film Festival is a good opportunity for us to introduce a slice of Assamese culture to a European audience. We hope the screenings here will be as successful as in Busan,” said the director, who could not make it to London in time for the screenings due to last-minute visa problems.
The film has been nearly four years in the making as the production team worked on innovative ways to fund this unique story. It is among the success stories of Indian crowd-funding start-up, Wishberry, where it raised nearly Rs 22 lakhs.
From the London Film Festival, “Kothanodi” will travel back home for its Indian debut at the MumbaiAcademy of the Moving Image (MAMI) Film Festival next month, where the film has been selected in the competition category from over 200 entries.