Amazon Prime Video’s latest Kannada film Ikkat, which premiered on July 21, opens with three people in a house, searching frantically for something that is hiding in the walls. The couple, played by Nagabhushana and Bhoomi Shetty, and an unnamed pest control guy are looking for a spider, which is of a massive size, the kind that is usually found in Amazon rainforests or Fantastic Beasts films.
For some unexplained reasons, the massive spider has made a home in a cramped two-room apartment of Vasu (Nagabhushana) and Janvi (Bhoomi Shetty). Well, the origin of the spider or how it entered the couple’s life is not the main concern. The eight-legged creature seems to be a metaphor of sorts for trouble in marriage.
The scene establishes that there is a spider (marital discord) in the relationship. And no matter what they do, the couple can’t seem to get rid of it.
The film is set in the backdrop of the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent blanket lockdown that brought the entire country to a standstill. Vasu and Janvi, who are contemplating divorce, are forced to tolerate each other for the next 21 days. However, “the spider”, hiding in the wardrobe or under the cot, complicates things. A distant relative with a serious cough also shows up at their door uninvited, adding to the already sticky situation.
Ikkat is packed with clean humour, which is rooted in the way Bengalureans live, talk, eat and entertain each other. The comedy stems from the couple’s struggle to cope with life during lockdown. The film seamlessly captures the initial paranoia created by news channels, nosy neighbours, the discomfort of hosting uninvited guests and silly things people did to amuse themselves. While it is not explicit, the film also reflects on how the lockdown added to the burden of women at home.
Ikkat is the first feature film of filmmakers Esham and Haseen Khan. They had earlier done a web series called Loose Connection for a YouTube page, Sakkath Studio. That explains the duo’s episodic narrative style, which feels like you are watching daytime television. Ikkat is essentially a 2-hour episode of a husband and wife trying very hard not to kill each other. But, it is smart, funny and witty.
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