Updated: Jun 30, 2020
There are some films after watching which, you don’t feel like talking for a bit. Film Companion’s Sunday Showcase ‘Meal’ is one such film. It makes you uncomfortable to the point where you want to look away and it may well be the feeling that the makers want to evoke.
With short films, the audio begins before the visuals kick-in, so your mind is already trying to figure out what the opening sequence could be about, and you wait for it to make sense. With this one, I wasn’t sure I wanted to look at the video when I saw the first shot. In one instance, you know what brutality, poverty, violence and above all, helplessness could look like, if turned into an actual living person. There she is standing and looking into nothingness – such a powerful image. The act of cooking normalizes the brutality that may have occurred a day in advance yet conveys the pressure that may be building up.
The setting of the movie is sheer brilliance. The drying line in the room, the mask on the wall, the black and white pictures, the half nail-polish, the kitchen utensils, the bathroom, the plastic bottles – all scream at you. They make you aware of an India you don’t want to be a part of. There is a door that doesn’t close, as if indicating that nothing is private in this world. This is a film which will raise questions.
Is violence, right? If the victim punishes the perpetrator, is he/she right? To what extent? Such films need to be made more. These questions need to be asked more. This India needs to be helped more.
To be honest, I am still a little bit numb from watching this film, but this is exactly the kind of cinema I expected Film Companion to showcase.