Amazon Prime Video’s latest Kannada movie Ikkat, which premiered on July 21, opens with three people in a house frantically searching for something to hide in the walls. The couple, played by Nagabhushana and Bhoomi Shetty, and an unnamed pest controller are looking for a spider of enormous size, the kind usually found in Amazon rainforests or Fantastic Beasts movies.
Inexplicably, the huge spider has made a home in a cramped two-room apartment belonging to 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 kind of metaphor for problems in marriage.
The scene establishes that there is a spider (marital discord) in the relationship. And whatever they do, the couple just can’t seem to get rid of it.
The film is set against the backdrop of the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent general lockdown that brought the entire country to a standstill. Contemplating divorce, Vasu and Janvi are forced to tolerate each other for the next 21 days. But “the spider”, hiding in the wardrobe or under the bed, complicates things. A distant relative with a severe cough also shows up uninvited, adding to the already sticky situation.
Ikkat is packed with pure humor, which is rooted in the way Bangladeshis live, talk, eat and entertain each other. The comedy stems from the couple’s struggles to cope with life during the lockdown. The film seamlessly captures the initial paranoia created by news broadcasters, nosy neighbors, the inconvenience of hosting uninvited guests, and crazy things people did to amuse themselves. While not explicit, the film also reflects on how the lockdown has increased the burden on women at home.
Ikkat is the first feature film by filmmakers Esham and Haseen Khan. They had previously created a web series called Loose Connection for a YouTube page, Sakkath Studio. That explains the duo’s episodic narrative style, which feels like you’re watching television during the day. Ikkat is essentially a 2 hour episode of a husband and wife trying very hard not to kill each other. But it’s smart, funny and witty.