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Siraj Syed


Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 

 

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Seasoned with Love: The last suppers

Seasoned with Love: The last suppers

How long does it take to commit two murders and get away unscathed? Fourteen minutes, according to director Lakshmi R. Iyer. Infidelity and Murder are the flavours of the season, what with the feature Andhadhun and the short The Perfect Murder. Now that the Internet provides you with a ‘How to’ kit, killing is no big deal, at least cinematically. But what fun is bumping off infidels unless they are granted their dying wish of last suppers, and the recipé is seasoned with sublime, divine love?

Flora Saini (Guddu ki Gun, Begum Jaan, Stree) and Sudhanshu Pandey (Dus Kahaniyaan, Singh Is Kinng, Singham, 2.0) are in bed. Three strings dangle precariously along her back, between Flora’s body revealing just that much and too much, while Sudhanshu could as well have been jogging in his shorts and sleeveless top. It is foreplay in progress, or just play, depending on how and how much you see.

The doorbell rings. And rings again. And again. The explorers are forced to call a halt to their voyage of discovery. She urges him to go and see who is at the door. He gets up and heads for the ingress point, but before he opens the door, he is able to recognise the person on the other side. Holy cow! His wife! She had to come back now?

Sudhanshu, has been cheating, while the wifey went meeting…her parents, that is. He rushes in and tells his partner in crime to hide quickly, and then goes back to open the door. Enter Richa Sony Sumbhaniya (the third word in her name is an indication that she has recently got married; known for top TV shows like Shararat, Bhagyavidhaata, C.I.D., Pehchaan, Siya Ke Ram) the wife, who has returned earlier than scheduled. Sudhanshu is relieved to see that she seems ignorant of his exploits. And then she notices the love bite on the nape of his neck. Now he is going to get it in the neck, he trembles in trepidation! “Another allergic rash? Have you been eating sea-food?” exclaims Richa. Rash indeed. Food? He’s all at sea. He’s been rash. And negligent. And when you are guilty of rash and negligent driving, you might have to face the consequences. Life-threatening consequences. Soon, two living beings are going to leave on their journey towards the hereafter. But I am not going to tell you which two.

Writing credits are not available, so we’ll go with the directorial efforts of Lakshmi R. Iyer, who has earlier made two short films Appa (26 min; acted too) and Wrong Mistake (9 min). There are only three characters in Seasoned with Love, of whom two soon become dear departed. So there is no ‘whodunit’ or suspense that comes into play in this movie. Following the narrative, we have a cut and dried escapade, unravelling at quick pace. That Lakshmi incorporates two minor doses of humour, both courtesy the woman in hiding in the bathroom, is creditable. Of course, the supreme irony is that the male character owns a restaurant called Seasoned with Love.

A short film is no excuse for showcasing a story where everything happens pat. A scenario that makes sure that everything goes according to plan and nothing goes awry is too perfect to be taken seriously, and is no fun either.  No back-story whatsoever also means no psychological examination of the trio’s psyches. An empirical assessment would begin with the idea of committing murder(s), choosing and procuring the means/weapons, careful and detailed observation of intended victims and others who could be possible witnesses, their behavioural patterns and movements, planning the act itself, with possible failure (Plan B), more so if there are two targets to aim at, planning the getaway (with Plan B) and avoiding the rap, and then executing the plan. A newspaper headline that suggests natural causes for the victims’ deaths is not end game for the killer. Police investigations usually begin at this stage.

Iyer handles the scene of the first murder with some flair. On the other hand, the behaviour of the husband and his woman does not conform to what would be expected from a couple caught in such circumstances. Likewise, the panache with which the wife conducts herself could only come from a cold, calculating and cunning persona, of which we are given no hint.

Sudhanshu Pandey fits the profile physically, as does Flora. Sudhanshu is not very convincing when he is putting on the act before his wife, though his scenes with Flora, both in the bed and in the bathroom hideout, are better executed. Richa gets to emote a bit, even using a deadpan look to make a point. No real histrionics are demanded by the mise-en-scène and none are proferred.

Production design is slick, and the 14 minutes fly by with some speed.

Seasoned with Love is produced by iRealities and will be shown on Hungama.com-Play, on April 16, 2019.

P.S. There is a Seasoned with Love Catering service, located at 4010 O'Ferral Street, Suite 150, Hattiesburg, MS 39402, USA. Anybody considering buying a franchise for India?

Rating: **

Trailer: https://scontent-sea1-1.cdninstagram.com/vp/a23a76431102956d51fc2737502825fc/5CB7ABCD/t50.2886-16/57462204_425884451521954_912513592136302592_n.mp4?_nc_ht=scontent-sea1-1.cdninstagram.com

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.


Bandra West, Mumbai

India



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