Banners: Assorted Motion Pictures, S1 Entertainment
Producers: Dinesh Gupta, Shailendra Kumar, Aritra Das
Director: Ram Kamal Mukherjee
Cast: Esha Deol Takhtani, Tarun Malhotra, Anindita Bose, Siddhartha Chatterjee
Writers: Ram Kamal Mukherjee (Story, Screenplay & Dialogue), Chandroday Pal (Story & Screenplay), Abhra Chakraborty (Additional dialogue)
Music: Shailendra Sayanti
Life is never a cakewalk for women. It is as much a struggle for homemakers as it is for divorcees. For women, it takes a whole lot of courage and strength to battle the self, the family and the society to break the orthodox gender-biased shackles and live the dreams. They are victims of gender-based discrimination to such an extent that it is almost a way of life for them. The situation is even worse for a woman who is divorced. It, after all, is considered a stigma. These hard to swallow bitter pills encapsulate journalist-turned-filmmaker Ram Kamal Mukherjee’s debut film Cakewalk.
The short film opens with Shilpa Sen whose car breaks down. She is extremely late for work. As she takes an Uber, she is seen talking to a female on the phone who asks her to immediately repay a credit card loan worth Rs 2 lakh. This immediately sets the tone of the film. We come to know that Shilpa is a working woman who handles her own finances. She needs no aide to help her get her through the ups and downs of everyday life.
The narrative is simple and is intertwined with a parallel story that intersects at some point. As Sen walks into a plush hotel and enters the baking kitchen, we are introduced to a rich couple who come to Kolkata to celebrate their first marriage anniversary. Director Mukherjee’s first 'recipe' is modestly woven but it makes you think. That is where the beauty of the film lies.
Cakewalk is crisply edited. The juxtaposition of the two narratives is clever. While we see Sen baking Bombe Alaska, we see the couple enjoying an intimate moment. All of them are seen living their best lives. We only wish that more attention would be given to details in the sequence where the protagonist is seen baking a winning dessert. What could be framed as mouth-watering turns out to be a bland affair.
It is not every day that we get to see films on food being made in India. Brownie points to Mukherjee for using desserts as a metaphor for bliss and dreams. Cakewalk is like a slice of freshly baked bun. It is warm and comforting. But what makes the film special is the note on which it ends. The courage to forgive, they say, requires immense strength. The strength also lies in making a choice.
It is a delight to watch Esha Deol Takhtani on screen after so many years. The grace and dignity that she brings to her character is impressive. She carries the film on her shoulders with ease and strikes a chord as an ordinary woman armed with extraordinary maturity and grit. Tarun Malhotra and Anindita Bose as the couple and Siddhartha Chatterjee are decent.
Verdict: Worth a watch!