Tasveer South Asian Film Festival 2019: Ravening (Aamis)

Ravening is a movie that plays in its actors’ eyes. The movie has some magic and most of it belongs to actress Lima Das and especially her hungry green eyes. The daughter of a doctor and a singer, Das evocatively plays a doctor with a sweet grace and humble gratitude behind every reading. Do not worry that it is not English, sweetness breaks through some barriers. There is this very good performance right at the center of Ravening and it radiates through the whole production. It is rare enough, to find horror from India, that one as full-bodied and bloody sure of itself as this one, is a totally special seasonal treat.

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Ravening. Dir. Bhaskar Hazarika.

Starring her opposite, premiering actor Arghadeep Baruah plays a PhD student who is invigorated by the colorful culinary world of meats. He has even joined a meat club where they seek out and cook exotic cuts, for the enlivening properties they hold. This becomes a fixation upon his first encounter with Doctor Das. They have an immediately arresting screen presence. She is married with a child. He is a bachelor exploring sex through food. They engage in a tryst around trying exceedingly rarer and rarer meats.

This becomes a devotional practice that consumes them both. Das playfully shrugs it off among her group of like-minded women – socially repressed, but sexually liberated in their independent practices. For her, it is the freedom and promise of love. He prepares increasingly stranger meats and it becomes a compulsive habit. Her eyes show us hunger and want and sadness and bliss, often all at once. When it escalates too far, and he cooks his own flesh for her consumption, the immediate thought causes her to wretch, after garbling down a slice of his thigh. Then, it makes her horny and hungry. All she craves is his flesh. Their relationship becomes interior in this way, closer than sex, all-consuming, figuratively and literally.

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Ravening. Dir. Bhaskar Hazarika.

The director, Bhaskar Hazarika, has made confident work of his very easy subjects. He frames them nicely if there is not too much camera movement to oversimplify its sense of documentary filmmaking. The camera can only shake so much. Then it steadies and when it holds over their relationship, truly special chemistry unfolds. When we cut away to auroral displays of artistically defined anatomies and interior parts, he makes a convincing argument for the very Cronenberg-ian kind of horror film that surrounds his intentions.

7/10

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