India/ 118 min /Assamese with English subtitles
Four folk tales from Assam re-imagined as a narrative about four mothers, each facing demons of her own.
NATIONAL AWARD for the best ASSAMESE FILM in India.
Once upon a time, Senehi (Zerifa Wahid), a woman who loathes her stepdaughter Tejimola (Kasvi Sharma), plots her murder when her husband is called away on a distant trip on business. Her husband – Devinath (Adil Hussain) - encounters a woman called Keteki (Urmila Mahanta) who has given birth to an outenga (elephant apple), which rolls around after her. Devinath resolves to unearth the mystery of the outenga. Meanwhile, in another village - a rich woman named Dhoneshwari (Seema Biswas) is getting her daughter Bonlotika (Monisha Bhuyan) married to a python - a wedding that has dire consequences for the girl. As these three stories unfold, another mother - Malati (Asha Bordoloi) - resolves to save her newest born from the clutches of her husband Poonai (Kopil Bora) and his uncle, who have sacrificed all three of her previous babies. In doing so, she unearths a shocking truth.
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"ONE OF THE MOST INTRIGUING, BEGUILING AND DISTURBING FEMINIST STATEMENTS THAT ONE HAS SEEN ON INDIAN SCREEN IN RECENT TIMES."
"HAUNTING SUPERNATURAL FOLK TALES THAT MAKE THE SKIN CRAWL."
"ONE OF THE MOST INTERESTING RE-TELLINGS OF POPULAR FOLK TALES ON INDIAN CELLULOID."
“A MUST WATCH FOR ANYONE THAT WANTS TO OPEN UP A NEW CONVERSATION ON INDIAN CINEMA AND MAGIC REALITY.”
“CRAWLS UNDER THE SKIN, WEDGES ITSELF THERE AND REFUSES TO LEAVE LONG AFTER THE FEATURE HAS FINISHED”
“A STRANGE AND MACABRE VOYAGE INTO THE FEARS AND DESIRES OF FOUR INDIAN WOMEN WHO ARE EACH BEARING A HEAVY BURDEN.”
"WEAVES ELEMENTS OF FOUR ASSAMESE FOLK TALES INTO A WEIRD, UNSET- TLING TAPESTRY"
“CHILLING - THAT’S A ONE WORD DESCRIPTION OF THIS BEAUTIFUL FILM.”
“THE MAGIC REALISM, THE SURREAL LANDSCAPE, AND THE TAUT SCREENPLAY MAKE IT A CAPTIVATING VISUAL TREAT.”
Kothanodi adapts its story from events and characters in four stories in the Assamese folktales compendium Buri Ai’r Xadhu (Grandma’s Tales). Compiled by Assam’s foremost literary luminary Laxminath Bezbarua in 1911, these folktales are well known and much loved by generations of Assamese children. While the stories in Grandma’s Tales have traditionally been presented as tales for children, Kothanoditries to push them towards darker, unor- thodox directions: here the magic is real, illusions starker, emotions rawer, and horror more visceral.
Why make a film based on obscure folklore from a little-known place tucked away in the northeastern corner of India? The world is getting smaller, and with it, more homogenized. Contemporary stories are increasingly irrelevant to their settings. An urban love story set in Bombay is likely to have the same themes as one set in Guwa- hati. This is, perhaps, the perfect time for cinema audiences to enjoy the rich diversity of culture and folklore in the world.
In Kothanodi , audiences will be introduced to stories that have universal themes (fear, loathing, envy, love), but are expressed in local style, influenced by storytelling traditions of the numerous communities inhabiting Assam for centuries. Kothanodi can also be looked upon as another example of the dark undertones that lie under the surface of almost every bedtime story in the world, as part of the global trend of alternative adaptations of classic folktales.
SEEMA BISWAS as Dhoneshwari
Seema, a multiple award-winning actress, has worked on several Hindi, Malayalam, and Marathi films in a career spanning 25 years, including Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen (for which she received a National Award in India), Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Khamoshi, and Deepa Mehta’s Water and Midnight's Children.
ADIL HUSSAIN as Devinath
Starting out from his native Goalpara, Adil earned his chops as an actor in the popular travel- ling satirical troupe – Bhaya Mama. He has since had a successful career on stage and screen, going on to work on major international projects such as Ang Lee’s Life of Pi and Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Bollywood hits like Inglish Vinglish.
ZERIFA WAHID as SenehiZerifa is a popular actor in Assam, and starred in the Jahnu Barua film Bandhon (2012), among others. She also runs a theatre company that has produced adaptations of works by Girish Karnad, Arun Sarma, and Peter Shaffer. In between films and theatre, she also practises law at the Guwahati High Court.
URMILA MAHANTA as Keteki
Urmila formally studied acting at the FTII, Pune, and has since gone on to work on many feature in Bombay, Chennai, and Assam. Her filmography includes the National Award- winning Tamil film Case No. 18/9, and Ketan Mehta’s Manjhi – The Mountain Man.
KOPIL BORA as Poonai
Kopil is a popular Assamese actor who has performed on stage, film, television, and radio for over 12 years. His 2014 film, Jahnu Barua's Ajeyo (Invincible), was screened at the 15th Mumbai International Film Festival, among others.
ASHA BORDOLOI as Malati
Born and brought up in Nagaon, Asha is a popular actress in Assamese television, film, and theatre. Kothanodi is her fourth Assamese film. Asha is at present working in primetime television and in mobile theatre – Assam’s unique travelling theatre circuit.
MONISHA BHUYAN as Bonlotika
Monisha is an actor, dancer and teacher from Majuli, Assam. She has an MA degree in Sattriya ¬– Assam’s classical dance form – from the University of Dibrugarh. She teaches dance at the Vivekananda School in Nalbari. Kothanodi is her debut film.
KASVI SHARMA as Tejimola
Kasvi is a student of Guwahati’s Maharshi Vidya Mandir, and aspires to be a doctor. She is also training as a Kathak dancer and theatre actor. Kothanodi is her debut film.