Kothanodi – The River Of Fables
Four folk tales from Assam re-imagined as a narrative about four mothers, each facing demons of her own.
Adapted from Assamese folk tales, Kothanodi is a multi-narrative film about four shades of motherhood. It’s 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.
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.
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, Kothanodi tries to push them towards darker, unorthodox 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 Guwahati. 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
- Adil Hussain as Devinath
- Zerifa Wahid as Senehi
- Urmila Mahanta as Keteki
- Kopil Bora as Poonai
- Asha Bordoloi as Malati
- Monisha Bhuyan as Bonlotika
- Kasvi Sharma as Tejimola