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Rogan Josh: A perfect dinner conversation leads to an uncomfortable truth

You need to take out 17 minutes to watch this masterpiece now!

Audita Bhattacharya
May 26, 2021
 
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A dining table isn't only a setting for an incredible feast but also doubles up as a space where more than a few discussions, arrangements, conflicts, talks and recollections concoct. Rogan Josh serves us a similar dish yet on an immaculate plate, in a mere 17 minutes.

Exactly when the pressure cooker's whistle goes off, a wrinkled hand sprinkles some fundamental spices to embellish the 'Rogan Josh' cooked in it. Wine glasses on wooden furnishings and a relic clock on a wall - the short film opens with a quiet, comfortable vibe and a supper table prepared for a celebration.

Vijay Kapoor (Naseeruddin Shah) is a head chef at The Taj, Mumbai. He and his better half Firoza (Avantika Akerkar) have his 65th birthday celebration at their home. It’s a small get-together for close friends and family. On the menu is his top pick and renowned dish 'Rogan Josh'. Their friends Zakhir (Shishir Sharma) and his better half Preeti (Shriswara) join them for the celebration. Vijay's son Varun (Bhuvan Arora) as well joins them on the dining table, exactly two minutes late for which he is continually rebuked by his father.

Their discussion at the table is very much like every other family get-together. It unfurls with time to give the viewers unobtrusive traces of their past, making us think about the missing links. Writer-director Sanjeev Vig has managed to keep the viewer hooked till the end through their conversation where awkward silences continue to come and go. Having said that, the air in the room seems dense with remorse and a sense of resentment.

The entire film is shot inside a house, which limits the audience's focus only to the exchanges between the family members. While the first few minutes comprise slow, long shots of the food being cooked in the kitchen, the latter part is filled with jagged hand-held camera movements and close-up shots. The ending gathers pace as the twist that is hinted right at the onset is about to get unfolded.

In spite of its fresh treatment with single shots of the calendar mixed with blacked-out screens, the climax appears to totally upset the nuance of the film to effectively express the idea. The shock intended is reduced greatly as Sanjeev Vig attempts to coddle his crowd with an unexpected ending based on a solemn moment in India's contemporary history. 

The meat may have melted flawlessly inside the mouth, yet the bones in this Rogan Josh stick out eventually.

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