“Meat becomes a metaphor for life, passion, connection. Food becomes a source of rapture and transcendence.”
This line by film critic Anupama Chopra perfectly justifies the core tenets of the movie Aamis. A movie that primarily focuses on the insatiable desire of meat consumption requires that much finesse in preparing and presenting the dishes showcased in the movie.
From bhapot diya (steamed) rice cake with pepper and peanut sauce to rabbit meat with greens to Pota (chewy part of duck) in bamboo with wild colocasia to potato meat pocket with kimchi salad, the movie left many food connoisseurs and avid lovers salivating throughout its runtime.
This is the masterful wizardry work of Karpum Pegu, the restaurant owner of Rice Tales in Guwahati and a chef. “I specialise in Assamese and tribal food although I started my culinary journey with basic continental cuisine,” said Pegu. Her love for experimenting with food from different cultures challenges her culinary skills every day.
“Aamis happened to me by accident,” said Pegu when asked about how she became involved with the movie. Her initial role was as an assistant costume designer for the movie as she wanted to learn costume designing for movies and Aamis seemed a good way for her to start.
However, she was already given the heads up when she joined the team that her skills will be used in the food designing aspect for the movie. Her drive for experimentation with local delicacies went on an overdrive and she started assisting the production designer, Manas Baruah with the food design. She added, “From him, I understood the kind of food designing that was expected in the movie.” The dishes showcased in the movie were compiled by the director Bhaskar Hazarika and Baruah. However, the styling was left in the hands of Pegu.
Pegu thanks Aamis for her first venture in food designing for movies. Food being an indispensable part of one’s life, Pegu’s whole life revolves around it. From a chef to an avid food lover, it was natural on her part to take this opportunity and make the most of it.
All the dishes showcased in the movie were prepared on the sets. From the simple dishes of wood apple to the Aamis (non-vegetarian) dishes to the symbolic dishes everything was done in the set. “Manas (Baruah) gave me the details and I curated the look of the dishes and sometimes we both worked on it together,” said the culinary specialist.
A movie whose appetising dishes made the viewers yearn for food was not an easy act to pull. “The movie demanded certain compact dishes that you see in the latter half of the movie which needed a lot of research, to begin with,” she added.
When asked about the favourite dish that she prepared for the movie, Pegu said: “Favourite is definitely the one with the egg on yin and yang bed made out of spinach and carrot.”
“I am a foodie if the definition of ‘foodie’ is trying out all sorts of dishes, curious about meat as well as veggies, respecting food habits of different cultures, no prejudice,” said Pegu, when asked whether she considers herself to be a foodie. For her, being a foodie has nothing to do with gluttony. According to her, it is all about tickling of the taste buds to what nature has to offer.