Starring Adil Hussain,Ratnabala Bhattacherjee, Arun Mukherjee, Avishek Jain
Directed by Abhiroop Basu
It was by chance that I saw this highly relevant . though a wee self consciously radical, short film about a very troubled family in Kolkata fighting inner and outer demons. While this family doesn’t seem particularly happy on its own, the communal tension outside—and we hear angry religious chants and rioting outside—makes it worse.
This is 11 minutes of unrelenting tension that clamps down on our throats and refuses to let go. We first see the lady of the house with a horrible wound on her face(was this a communal injury or domestic violence?) poring over the day’s meal in the kitchen. In other room her husband, deeply troubled and agitated is trying to somehow pack a suitcase: where does he want to escape to , considering the roads are clogged with communal malevolence?
And yet the son is getting ready for school in a stained uniform while his grandfather sits inert suggesting a deathly calm before a looming storm.
While the performances, particularly Adil Hussain who is as usual, far more brilliant than the script allows him to be, carry this angry enraged bitter film, I found the dystopian atmosphere way too selfconscious and oppressive. The absence of dialogue makes it even worse. Nobody speaks for the length and breath of the film. The only human sound we hear is the mother’s bloodcurdling screams at the end. Her pain suggests protest and acceptance. As far as this short film is concerned we are doomed by fanaticism.
That , I don’t agree with. But Meal is laudable for the performances, praticularly Adil Hussain whose eyes convey both fear and anger at the same time.I am not too sure if the film conveys a commensurate clarity of emotions.