Ever since Tisca Chopra announced that she would be producing a short film called Chutney, there’s been a fair amount of interest in how the project would turn out.
The little-over-16-minutes short was released on YouTube on Tuesday, 29 November, and let’s just say it makes for a very compelling watch.
A short observation on short films: As well-established actors and filmmakers have started to associate themselves with the genre, we’ve had a slew of well-written, edgy offerings. These shorts aren’t obscure or abstract, they excel in the art of telling a story — in a very short time. There’s nothing gimmicky about Chutney; it is understated — and creepy.
Chutney — which Chopra has also co-written (along with director Jyoti Kapur Das) — features her, Adil Hussain and Rasika Dugal. The bulk of the screen time is taken up by Chopra, and Dugal — who is her onscreen foil. Dugal is vivacious, Chopra subdued.
The story is set in Model Town. Dugal — a pretty, young housewife is having an affair with Hussain, married to the dowdy Chopra. Dugal makes friendly overtures to Chopra at a neighbourhood get-together, not perhaps expecting to be taken up on her offer of a visit.
The next afternoon, Dugal makes her way to Chopra’s home. There, she is served pakoras with a bowl of chutney — the condiment to which the film’s title refers.
As Dugal — at first hesitantly, then eagerly — devours the chutney and pakoras, Chopra begins to tell her a story — of love, of betrayal, and its sordid end. You expect the axe to fall at any time — this wronged, seemingly insignificant woman, what secrets does she know? While she seems to be naive, and Dugal the modern, worldly woman — which of the two is really all-knowing?
The end has an edge that justifies the film’s name, and yet, like chutney, Chutney too leaves you thirsty and slightly unsatisfied, wanting more.