Juice: Shefali Shah's Steady Gaze Pierces Deep Into The Normalised Patriarchy of Middle-class Households
There’s much to love and almost zilch to loathe about Neeraj Ghaywan’s short film Juice.
Image: Youtube/ A still from Juice
After winning plaudits for the detailing in Masaan, Neeraj Ghaywan is back with a powerful short film. Titled Juice, the film stars thespians Shefali Shah and Manish Choudhary in key roles.
Set during a dinner get-together scene, a regular house-wife Manju Singh (Shefali Shah) is in the kitchen while her husband (Manish Choudhary) is enjoying drinks and snacks with his office colleagues in the living room. Keeping Manju company are the wives of the aforementioned office colleagues.
The men are busy talking Trump and Hilary and dissing emails and females while the women, sweating in the scorching heat of gas, busy themselves discussing job and kids.
Just like the meal on the hob reaches a boil, Manju’s build-up too lies in the little moments of the film- regular calls from her husband to fill-in the snacks plate, to clear out kids from the dining area, to a young girl being interrupted in her play time to serve her brothers, to a house help being offered tea in a steel glass unlike others who sip tea from ceramic cups.
Interestingly, while the film centers on Manju, there aren’t too many dialogues for her. “Diaper badalna hai toh wo toh hum hi ko karna padega na, inn logo ke haath se toh remote chhoot jaayega” is perchance one of the only two lines she uses to expannoyance before finally reaching boiling point.
Instead, Ghaywan uses visuals, sounds and background conversations to build up the climax and perhaps Shah's unfazed gazes convey more than words will ever say. Shah is in top form and a testament to her acting prowess is a scene wherein she just leers at the sound of knife piercing into a carrot piece by piece.
A film that takes an unfazed if taciturn look at the normalized patriarchy and misogyny in middle-class Indian homes is not fresh but somehow, Ghaywan’s short is still ahead of previous ones. And while the current relevance of the film is debatable, one can’t deny it the due of being crystal clear with its ultimate missive.
There’s much to love and almost zilch to loathe about Ghaywan’s short because no matter how progressive we tout ourselves to be, there’s a misogynist deep-rooted in (almost) all of us. It may reveal itself at family occasions where elders stickle behind young girls to convince them for marriage because “it’s the right age, you see” or at the workplace where casual sexist remarks flow in and out on daily basis.
Watch the full film here:
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