Fairy Folk Fable Tribal: The Incredible Likeness of Being Assam & Awesome in KOTHANODI

By Nataranjan Bohidar

Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews

The problem with film posters is that no one will come to watch a film whose promo depicts an albino kid or a new born girl with invisible face or a child rolling about in and as a gender free fruit green. And yet, imagine in Lennon stylistics, what it could have been. Put that soury gourdy albino - or is it an albinic gourdy soury -  in a basket a patra a drona of woven bambwomb splits and float it down river and suddenly it starts pumping blood into our so so so much later - chronologically marking and anthropologically speaking -  mythological veins of two of humanity's greatest so so sanitized epics....but with the ostracism intact...that bane of all civilizations. So, this is exactly where great cinema like KOTHANODI ('K') falters. In its promotion.
A film maker is not expected to know just what will be the impact of his or her film, or where...which is why film making is the riskiest business in the history of mankind ,  closest to the risks of prehistoric survival of the human race- beset by predators and cannibals of every kind, more dangerous than loan sharks, including one's very own suicidal self.
A Still from Cindrella
But the advertising man or woman must know how to predict the response...if not the results, given a set of predictable advertising slogans and circumstances...which is why advertising by virtue of its relative cocky sureness is considered a lower art form than film making by virtue of the latter's totally immeasurable unpredictability...measured on mankind's survival scale of uncertainty, where the less predictable art of imitating life and proposing vice versa is rated higher than the lower form of commercial creature life of selling goods & services...ha ha ha, what an innuendo of a definition - aka advertising. I once asked the legendary David Ogilvy if great promos for a faulty product will kill the product faster....pitting as i was intentionally one kind of industrial art against another. He hummed and hawed and preferred to stick to the more traditional tale of how bad promos can completely stifle a good proposition. And , of course, we all agree with that. Because 'K's promo and alas Barua's pesticide-seeking film appraisal Almodovar  driven of urbanised female anxieties that is a false promo by any other name - because film criticism in India died a long long time ago -  just may have connived to grind to death the greatest Indian multi-coiled cinematic mythological event ever let loose in recent times...
Kothanodi - The River of Fables, Movie Poster, directed by Bhaskar Hazarika, starring Seema Biswas, Asha Bordoloi, Adil Hussain
Kothanodi: Movie Poster
That Assam & Awesome (some pronounce the two as Ossom) have a phonetic connect comes as no surprise to me having visited Guahati, experienced 'K'ama'K'shya  Devi and yearned to break the curfew at the bewitching hour of night to dip in the Brahmaputra known for breaking its curfewing banks of imprisonment (financial pun intended) over and over again such that it is a river of many anaconda widths that could shame the Amazon. That 'K's serpentinian stories emerge from the gorging  regurgitating belly depths of the palpable ossomness of Ossom, that you can only pay tribute to it, not tell it nor tale it nor trail or tail it not narrate it not spiel not spin not mastermind not cut paste not emasculate but let it merely meander flow run through the corri-doors & channels & sluice gates of your mind, your mastis'K' , your pythas like a prehensile  unpremeditated growth swelling distending akin to a pressurised vein splitting blood flood alongside a simultaneous nerve wracking sap-drip-drop drip-drop drip- drop, because vegetarianism and its non-version have not at this time been invented, and so you let both the mangshashi and the shakahari  seep through your unique consciousness, your shared conscience-mess, your collective psyche, your collective unconscious. And you wonder in the blackness of the auditorium, oblivious to everyone else, lost in the dark recesses of your sometimes ticking mind & sometimes thrib-throbbing heart if this isn't the reason why cinema was invented....to imagerize metaphorise metamorphosize symbolize iconize totemize our special intertwining 'K'athas that have kept us mesmerized and together through aeons of immeasurable time. No linear paged novel or print product could possibly catch the stark complexity of the internecine argument of incursive, insidious intent,flowing like many currents in a single river.
Gustave Dore's illustration of Little Red Riding Hood
Gustave Dore's illustration of Little Red Riding Hood
And 'K's Director does well to stand at the end of at least two screenings that i have watched and take in the praise and the criticism in equal measure trance-like. Because with 'K' we are here celebrating the trance and the transition and the transportation that comes from tripping from the pre-civilizational tribal to the post agricultural rural to the near nature starvation urban. Anyone who confuses the fairy with the folk with the fable with the tribal is bound to completely miss the movie as the poster does and as does the grim- faced faceless effort. (What are four women's faces doing here with four feminine institutionalised conventionalised constitutionalized Red Bindiyas chamkoing... these poster women are not of the film, because in 'K' they are beyond the pale of our imagination of our constitution of our institution of our formalisation...these are formless wild energies...in their trance-fixed primeval unform...of whom some will lead us to our current state....and some beyond....because this is not 4 stories and one epic ....this is ONE PRE-EPIC BEFORE THE EPIC WAS BORN! So, why are the domesticated faces laid out mystery stripped cut- pasted air brushed banal beheads in Bollywoody box-office smoke machined sequence? Where is the magic, where the realism, where is the fine balance that 'K' so successfully achieves in the film - in the acting method and the madness, the superstitious sanity, the numbskull sadness and skullnumbing sadism reeking with primeval phallic eroticism? Have we not missed the jungles for the wood here, the wood for the trees, the copious dense undergrowth for the mono(agri)culture? In the promo, I mean...not in the movie....though definitely in the interpretation of it). As an aside, Robert should never have allowed the Frost to settle on Nehru's imagination and allowed him to explore the woods dark & deep instead of turning away to keep promises he could never possibly hope to keep.
A Still from Baby's Day Out
A Still from Baby's Day Out
'K' is, therefore, in the betrayals it portrays and the mind bending, nay cranium crushing sovereign torture it depicts, mashing rice white with blood red, not a movie about some intellectual sailing down the river of knowledge...this is not the masalaic Mississippi nor the Conradian Thames, the dainty preserve of urban university education, though it is that, too, but it is a much much more severe river Brahmaputra , sometimes cloaking devilry in the merchantry - not poster-boy commercialese, mind you, thanks to a powersoft Adil - sometimes cloaking the deep sea of heaving emotions in silent waters, at times turning into the Styx that ropes in a psychic crossing, at other times becoming the conjoining conjugal medium for dip and a float and then  an unfathomable fishing territory....and at most times much closer to the Amazon, but so intercoiled with the Outengist - truth will Out, that is in the Gist- the circular, the congealed, the ingrown, the claustrophobic, the crushing the strangulating the cyclical the foetal the fatal the seminal the menstrual the spiral and the rotational edges and edginess of our  philosophy and philology that in a predominantly agricultural land of today bihu-ornated weaver decorated metal and gold plated money-price estimated & Brahminical morality debated 'K' gently at first and then vigorously bye and bye sets us off on a primordial Pangean journey to Gondwanaland, into a prime-evil past when, it is believed, we may have been connected with the deepest most terrifying most mysterious magical jungles of the then South American continent where human life swallowed by the reptilian, crushed and strangulated , choked and suffocated, struggled to emerge and silently gave up, acquiesced to the defeat and began to evolve only later in the somewhat less steamy, less constrictopian, more savvy, savannahic regions of Africa.
A Still from Anaconda, Jon Voight
A Still from Anaconda
That Gabriel Garcia Marquez recognized this in his Solitudinal Psychopathic 100 years and told the Europeans that if you think Africa is the  heart of darkness you ain't seen nothin' yet and gave us the courage to go past Naipaul who himself went past Fanon's wretchedness to call India a wounded civilization, to now have 'K' which may be the poultice for our subliminal angst, because it is at 'K', the sutradhar, and connected collated narratives of similar hypernature, where our evolutionary 'K'atha suddenly becomes so rich and succulent and so culturally nutritional that some may see in it all of India's pre, current and post-civilizational reincarnation, transmigration, transition and rebirth.So, is their a solution for the world here, where we can overcome, not bypass, the wretched quality of our zero-sum fate? (My analyses of Nandan Saxena & Kavita Behl's documented economic alternatives is still pending). And are we struggling too much in our films with coincidence, which is why they fail, when we could actually be addressing Fate as our ancestors once did...and 'K' reminds us?
A Still from Ratatouille
A Still from Ratatouille
That nature can be so pernicious before it becomes evidently plentiful, that much before the cornucopia, before the dream of utopia, came the harrowing and haranguing nightmares of constrictopia, the mystical magic reality of coping both with your mind, you think you have one , and the mind of the universe, you think it/s/he has one, and the physical spirit that both have one and the same will to survive!

'K' takes all this in and superimposes it, pans it across our middle class middling morality, on our put- puttering life of mundane faked emotions and roti flattened spirit, circumscribed by the insincere passion of faked religiosity, and succeeds miraculously to extract therefrom a meaning more painful than a drilling in our dental gums, to find the teeth of a new meaning that should give us now a powerful jaw for our future.
Marquez and Shakespeare
Marquez and Shakespeare
Marquez would have been proud to see 'K', Eisenstein surely moved by its montage and Stanislavski prepared to rewrite his treatise on acting method. For Shakespeare it would be a HEAD turner, as the cauldron boils and kadhai bubbles and witches toil to make human trouble and the foul-fair fair-foul dichotomy takes a pernicious pun turn on a perfectly sun drenched day, which is really a tribute to how Hazarika uses light outside to convey the impending darkness inside and vice versa.

As for the Aristotlean definition of tragedix and apparently a comedix he wrote alongside his poetix, they would after 'K' simply fall into disrepute if not on deaf (y)ears.... all thanx to awesome Assam (Ohom,Ohmm,Om), and the reason why everything about her tells us she is definitely limb-coiled with mainland India, not for the economy, not the political boundary, not for the facials, the race or colour, but the myths, and the dreams, the nightmares and the evolutionary screams that we all share as Indians! The middle-man who appears to have travelled down from much much further up from the faraway text-styled North, notwithstanding!
The History of Editing, Eisenstein, and the Soviet Montage
The History of Editing, Eisenstein, and the Soviet Montage
Don't miss ''KOTHANODI" - it is a Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Maleficent churn without the prince, the woodcutter, the fairy god-mother, without a pumpkin and the ratatouille, but Baby's Day Out nevertheless with Outenga!

Digital release of the film is awaited across Eastern America in September. Unaffordable costs of dubbing forbid the film from getting into at least 14 Indian languages to make a national pitch. But that is not necessary.

Release in the languages of Assam and our  North Eastern states, Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bangladesh, and among the Bhils, Munda, Gond, Oram, Juanga, Bhuiyan, Saura , Dharua, Bonda, Koya, Mohali, Loharas, Oraon , Ho, Ojha, Paraja, Gadaba, Bhuiji who it is now discovered speak about the same language, should be enough, but I would personally love a Kui dub:
Tribals From Different Regions of India Find They Speak The Same Language
Tribals learn they can file reports in their own native languages
"Tribals From Different Regions of India Find They Speak The Same Language – And Now Share Information By Cell Phone | ICFJ - International Center for Journalists,


Consider this. Odisha alone has a population of 30 million ruralites, with 62 tribes. If the Govt. were to give our 'K' men ₹10/- per capita entertainment, 'K' would make ₹30 crores in just one Indian state.

If an audience cannot find a film, the film must find its audience. And that is what advertising -- whether of product or picture or brand and fixture -- was invented to do!

All the best, "K". Let 30 million kathas float.

About Author - 

Nataranjan Bohidar has 40 years of teaching, training & transformational expertise. His interests are socio-cultural symbiogenesis & citizen positioning. His current initiative is to position India as a democracy within a continuum where cinema is a key subtext.

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Kothanadai - The River of Fables (2015) Trailer            

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  1. Meantime we notice "Chauthi Koot" is up for commercial release! But that's another story ...uh ...uh...another 2 or 3 ...or is that 4 stories?
    The Fourth Direction - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Chauthi Koot is a 2015 Indian film in Punjabi language directed by Gurvinder Singh. It is based on the short stories The Fourth Direction and I Am Feeling Fine ...


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