‘It's a very good time for Assamese cinema,’ says Lima Das of 'Aamis'

Lima Das, Assamese actor-dancer.

Lima Das, Assamese actor-dancer.  


The actor discusses her breakout performance in the Assamese movie which has opened to rave reviews, and what the future holds for the industry

“I had a dream of working in particular kind of film – an arthouse film,” says Lima Das, about what drew her to Aamis (Ravening), the recently-released Assamese film, which had its world première at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year. Directed by Bhaskar Hazarika, the film at the beginning appears to be a story about love or forbidden love affair. But as the story progresses, there lies gluttony beyond lust and innocence . And at the centre of all are the two protagonists — first-time actors Lima (Nirmali) and Arghadeep Baruah (Sumon). The characters — Nirmali, a doctor, and Sumon, a Ph.D. student researching on various kinds of meat available in Northeast, bond over food and go on sharing a unique relationship even embracing each other’s darker side in the process.

What stands out in the unusual but original story is the unbeatable performance by Lima Das, a dentist by profession and a dancer by passion. Lima, a trained Sattriya (an Assamese dance form) and Odissi dancer, was born in an affluent family of doctor-father and a singer-mother. At 42, she decided to take a plunge into acting for two reasons — Aamis and Bhaskar Hazarika. The latter’s directorial début, Kathanadi, was “so beautifully done” that something about his style of filmmaking spoke to her. So when there was an opportunity, she approached the independent filmmaker, also a family friend, for an acting gig. What followed next was a series of workshops and reading sessions with the director and co-actor, to get into the skin of Nirmali. “At the end of the whole exercise, I was more at ease being another person, the character,” she explains. And the ease in the performance reflects beautifully, especially in a scene when Sumon reveals his secret recipe and Nirmali walks out of the restaurant in anger, disbelief and finally in acceptance of the dynamics of their relationship – rush of emotions expressed like the “nava rasas” in dance.

Set in Guwahati ‘Mahanagari’, Aamis will leave you craving for meat — in both literal and figurative sense, and make you wonder about relationships and human psyche. Excerpts from the interview:

Has your experience as a dancer help you in preparing for Aamis?

Dancing certainly helps. As a dancer you are more handicapped, you don’t have lines to deliver, so you tell the story through ‘abhinaya’ ( expression), body movement, and hand gesture . So whatever I know about acting is through dance. I have been a dancer all my life, and in fact if you make any art form a part of your life, it gives you an insight into life, and it brings maturity in a person.

Director Bhaskar Hazarika (C) with actors Lima Das and Arghadeep Baruah.

Director Bhaskar Hazarika (C) with actors Lima Das and Arghadeep Baruah.  

What do you think is the way forward for Assamese cinema? What is the biggest challenge that the Assamese film industry is facing right now?

For an industry to survive it needs capital and investment. Assam is not a huge State. We need more people to watch our movies. But for that to happen, we need more theatres. At the same time, the industry needs support from the government, especially for independent filmmakers. Movies like Aamis go to film festivals. But then, it’s a different story to bring them to theatres. The government should step in and provide grants for movies that are well-received in international circuit.

We had such difficulty releasing Aamis; it’s only when Anurag Kashyap came onboard that we managed to release. There is no dearth of talent but there is no support system in place.

Funding is the main problem here. Otherwise, this is a very good time for Assamese cinema, in fact it’s a great time for good cinema coming out from Northeast.

While the mainstream Hindi cinema has recently been telling a few stories from heartland India, there is hardly been any representation of Northeast in these films. What are your thoughts?

It’s quite sad actually. Even if there’s a central character hailing from Northeast, the producer wants to market the movie with a star’s name. But now, I think the situation is improving with more artists from this part of the country getting involved in various aspects of filmmaking. People need to be more aware and even we need to keep the conversation going on social media and otherwise.

Is there a take away from Aamis experience? Has the movie bug bitten you already?

I have a full time job and I am a dancer. But if I get an interesting script, I will definitely go for it. My experience of filmmaking was beautiful. We all got along really well.There were so many women in the crew, which was so lovely and we had a great time. I would very much like to experience it all over again.


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Printable version | Jan 22, 2020 7:22:53 PM |

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