Every minute in Neeraj Ghaywan’s new short film Juice is bursting with subtext. Ghaywan juggled two disparate storylines held together by the themes of life, death and redemption in his acclaimed feature debut Masaan (2015). In Juice, Ghaywan again shows his deft touch in communicating a universal theme through ever changing set-ups and on-screen relationships. Produced by Large Short Films, Juice was released on YouTube on November 22.
Brijesh Singh (Manish Chaudhari) is having a house party to which his colleagues have been invited. Only big boys are aboard this ship, filled to the deck with loud laughter and casual sexism. Brijesh’s wife Manju (a superb Shefali Shah) is the captain elsewhere – in the kitchen. Manju and the wives of Brijesh’s colleagues are hard at work cooking goodies to go with the drinks. The men gossip about their disapproval of a new female colleague. One suggests that she should not have been hired in the first place and then apologises to Manju. She gives the faintest hint of a smile and leaves.
In the kitchen, the women discuss the pros and cons of marriage, bringing a child into the world, and balancing domestic duties with careers. Both genders have made their peace in their respective worlds, or so it seems.
Ghaywan underlines his climax in bold, which takes away some of the quiet strength of the preceding scenes. More than what is necessary is communicated with prolonged staring and a background score that announces “la fin”. Barring these pitfalls, Juice is a work of ingenuity and conviction.