Director: Aman Dahiya
Cast: Naveen Kasturia, Saba Azad
It took me a while to figure out the title, but I grinned when I did. Aman Dahiya’s cheeky 13-minute short film, Pure-Veg, is designed to integrate our social conditioning into the watching experience. It initially presents itself as a gabby suburban snapshot, the kind you hope doesn’t behave overly hipster to define its tone.
A young man (Naveen Kasturia), newly back in the city, walks down Mumbai’s Versova beach with a girl (Saba Azad) he is clearly meeting after ages. They’re nostalgic and awkward. Exes, perhaps? On saying he will live with “the folks,” she promptly (and very conveniently) offers him her living room instead. “Who lives with their parents these days?” she mutters, an obvious statement even more obvious in hindsight. These are the sort of lines filmmakers insert in after scourging the finished script for timely, and often unnecessary, little clues. The next scene has them more at ease, many pints down at an abnormally bright pub. Now they’re buddies. Ex best friends, perhaps? It’d be nice to see the night unfold after this ice-breaking session. But we don’t. We’re usually used to being told what comes after a good-looking couple’s tryst with indie music and suspiciously watered down beers.
Further on, he has shifted into her flat. They seem to have done this before. She teases him about his day-drinking habits and paintings, and he about her strange choice in men. She reminds him about how he had carved their names on a wall back in school. Perhaps, a rekindled romance brimming? The last scene, though shoddily executed, presents the real point of this film – and their stilted reunion. By now, one has grown to like Kasturia, who almost always fools viewers into thinking he has just been dumped. Azad looks like the workaholic who had always wanted to break away, which is why their odd chemistry works well in context of Dahiya’s illusion.
I’m going to resist making a mandatory culinary pun here. But if you put aside the craft-specific learning curve that Pure-Veg serves as, it may just surprise you.
Even if the yolk is a bit runny. Ah, almost resisted.