Cast: Esha Deol, Tarun Malhotra, Anindita Bose
Director: Ram Kamal Mukherjee
The premise of Cakewalk is nothing out of the ordinary. A woman, presumably, in her 30s, found to be reflecting on her past, which she thought she had left behind, but somehow it has a funny way of catching up with her.
Set in Kolkata, Cakewalk opens with Shilpa Sen (Esha Deol Takhtani) trying to reach office on time. She's bombarded with calls from the credit card company on when she's likely to make her payment. Something many of us will identify with. The only jarring part is the heavy make-up she sports, which feels out of place, especially for a chef. Imagine toiling over a hot stove, and we wonder if her heavy make-up is going to fall apart. Surprising it didn't strike the director that a career-oriented woman looking as though she just stepped out of a model hunt might be a misfit.
She soon finds herself in a situation where she has to bake a cake for her ex-husband (Tarun Malhotra) and his new wife (Anindita Bose), who happen to be visiting the star hotel where she is working as a chef.
We wish the director had explored the art of food alongside relationships, much like how it happens in the Jon Favreau starrer Chef. Production values aren't gripping as well, and whatever little shots of food we are shown don't look tantalising, to say the least.
Blame it on the run-time, which is about 25 minutes; I wish the conflict between the couple, could have had more screen time. But kudos to the director for keeping the melodrama down. There aren't scenes where the lead characters are elbowing at each other as though they are at two ends of a football stadium. After a heated argument, Shilpa just keeps her ring aside, signalling the end of the relationship. Since you are not invested in their marriage much, you don't relate to the lead character's trauma that well.
The lovemaking scene between Malhotra and Bose also doesn't seem to be needed considering the focus is on Deol and her ex. Instead, we feel the director could have used the space to go in-depth into the lead characters' marital woes.
Coming to the performances, Esha Deol is a revelation with her matured performance, and we couldn't help but wonder why she hadn't chosen roles with care before. Cakewalk just proves that you couldn't write anyone off. Hopefully, she's poised for a second inning. Filmmakers, take note.
Malhotra shows flashes of brilliance. Look out for the scene where he has a taste of the cake and nostalgia hits him. Bose is more of a decorative piece here.
Music (Prajna Dutta) for the film is commendable and lends a soothing flavour, pun intended. Costume designer Kareen Pawani deserves a special mention as well.
The short film completely belongs to Deol, and for that alone, Cakewalk can take up your weekend time. I am going with 2.5 stars.
(Cakewalk streams on Voot for free)