Published by Royal Stag Barrel Select Large Short Films on 22nd November 2017, Juice is a brilliant film with a power message written and directed by Neeraj Ghaywan. It was produced by Lalit Prem Sharma. It is 14minutes and 39 seconds long. If you haven’t watched this one, here is the link to the video:
Juice is a film par excellence. The story is very realistic, the direction is superb and acting of all the actors and actresses is perfect. In fact, it feels like a page from the life of any regular, middle (or upper middle) class Indian woman. I saw this drama unfold countless times at get-togethers within the known circles. The only difference between reel life and real life is the last scene in this movie. Well! You understood. In real life we rarely, or should I say never, try to do what Manju Singh, the main character, has done.
Manju Singh and her husband are hosting a get-together at their house for a group of friends, on a summer evening. The movie depicts what generally happens at such get-togethers. All the men are sitting comfortably in the living room with the air cooler taking care of the temperature. The coffee table is filled with a delicious spread of appetizers all prepared by Manju. She serves the guests, while they are relaxed and gossiping about different topics. The children are in a separate room playing video games and having conversations of their own and all the ladies are in the hot, smoke filled kitchen engrossed in their conversations. Every now and then, they wipe the steam of sweat, fan their faces with the pallu of their saree and complain of the heat in the kitchen. Manju and her maid, Parbatiya, are the only persons doing most of the work while the rest of them are just hanging around and chatting.
This story has so many layers to it. It shows the complexities and hurdles in the path of women who desire so much to break free from the shackles of male domination in the society. Simple conversational dialogues show the viewers how much and where we have gone wrong. It is gender bias, class discrimination and male chauvinism against women all cooked into one short story.
Men alone are not responsible for this disgraceful state of affairs; it is some women who feed fodder to this kind of deplorable thought process by their mindless actions. This is quite evident when Mrs. Sarla, one of the guests, calls Dolly, the girl child, to help her serve food for the men but allows the boys to continue playing. The women don’t help each other as we see in the case of the chicken getting burnt while the two ladies standing right there and watching photos on the phone. They sermon the other ladies that women have to choose either motherhood or job but not both. Mrs. Chawla, the guest offers tea to the hardworking domestic help in a shabby steel glass while they drink in a decent porcelain cup. The list goes on and on.
Meanwhile the men in the living room have even American political scenarios dunked into the gravy of gender bias and presented it. They call women weaklings but they need women to take care of every single thing for them. They behave as if they are glued to the couch and the only movable part of their body is their mouth.
Every single dialogue in this short film has volumes to tell and every scene adds flavour to the story. In short it is a must watch. Shefali Shah plays the role of the hostess Manju Singh effortlessly and she has done an excellent job.