Short Film Review: ‘Meal’

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Abhiroop Basu is known for his short films and with ‘Meal’, he presents yet another story which totally lures the viewers in. Starring Adil Hussain, Ratnabali Bhattacharjee and Avishek Jain, the film’s name doesn’t give away too much and, if you begin watching without thinking of the name, you will be surprised with the way the plot goes.

Written by Basu too, the film sees a lady making a meal for her family. As the story unravels, one can see that she is the mother of a child (Jain), the wife to her husband (Hussain) and a daughter-in-law (to Arun Mukherjee’s character). She has a bruise or scar on her face which is difficult to ignore and one wonders how she manages to get it. There’s clear tension as the family sit down for breakfast in the morning, with Hussain, Bhattacharjee and Jain on the table but Mukherjee in another room. There are potential themes of suffering, of domestic violence, of oppression and a whole lot more. As a viewer, you’re very much lured into the whole atmosphere and there are umpteen questions in your head about the surrounding situation.

As the story moves on, there are many things that the viewer notices but the biggest of those realisations are that the film is dialogue-less. As such, the actors are so much more pawns than in a film which has lines. All four of those in the film are extremely expressive to show the themes which could be part of the narrative which feed the viewers’ imagination.

What Basu achieves is an incredibly moving story of desperation and anguish and then of regret and the aftermath of that but this is only learnt after the characters are etched out cleverly and the expressions they have on their faces reveals many secrets that could be. It leaves the viewer wanting to know more but this short film format is highly effective for the story it seeks to portray, which could be representative of many situations in people’s lives.

‘Meal’ is now streaming on Hotstar.

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