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When two hitch-hiking lovers on the run through the backwaters of southern India are picked up at midnight by a crew of small time gangsters, it’s the start of a pulse-pounding descent into madness and cruelty in this disturbing, relentless and horrifying thriller.
Fleeing their old lives, north Indian migrant Durga (Rajshri Deshpande) and local man Kabeer (Kannan Nayar) are heading for a railway station in Kerala, southern India, when – in the middle of nowhere - they’re offered a lift in a sinister van festooned with neon lights. Thus begins a tense, claustrophobic trip into the heart of a nightmare, as the two are toyed with by their dangerous and violent captors on the lightless and lonely roads, where corruption and chaos rule.
Intercut with this terrifying journey are scenes from the savage ritual of Garudan Thookkam (Eagle Hanging), where devotees of the wrathful goddess Kali pierce their flesh with sharp hooks and spikes, or painfully walk through fire.
The darling of Rotterdam Film Festival, Sexy Durga was shot in a freeform style, without a script or even a narrative, by bold director Sanal Kumar Sasidharan. Cached within this grim, dark, energetic road movie from hell is a cutting commentary on the brutal misogyny and political racketeering plaguing rigidly patriarchal modern India. It’s a powerful example of regional Indian cinema rising up to hold the entire country’s culture to account.
PU (India, 2016, Malayalam language, 16mins) short film directed by J Bipin Joseph will screen before feature.
Wednesday 30th August