A film succeeds in qualifying as an engrossing psychological thriller when the audience embarks on an earnest mission, trying to put together the pieces of the puzzle in the experiment.
My typing of “pepper chicken” in the Google search engine yielded millions of results. This was well expected, owing to the popularity of the dish across varied cuisines. But is this delicacy always so relished and welcomed? What if it was served, in the chilling dark of night, to a woman terrified out of her wits?
Ratan Sil Sarma’s Pepper Chicken addresses this issue head-on as it takes you on a thriller ride in a ninety-minute package of fear and action.
Vaidehi, a beautiful, young radio jockey is about to wind up her career and get settled in a life of marital bliss. While heading home after her last day at work, she somehow happens to get roped into a conversation with the driver of the cab she has hired. He is extremely talkative, and Vaidehi ends up sharing a few personal details of her life with him, and vice versa.
The journey through the dark streets turns out to be pretty eventful. They stop by at a dhabba for tea and snacks, have an encounter with a bunch of hooligans, and face inspection by an obnoxious cop who happens to be corrupt. What eventually leaves Vaidehi and the driver in dire straits is when the car breaks down and leaves them stranded.
An abandoned house in the dense jungle is where this journey takes the duo. What Vaidehi experiences in the villa is nothing less than an emotional roller-coaster ride. Will she make it back home safely to get married the next day? Pepper Chicken keeps you on the edge of your seat to get that answer.
Pepper Chicken rests primarily on the shoulders of Boloram Das, who plays the role of the cab driver, and Dipannita Sharma, who essays the role of radio jockey Vaidehi.
A product of the National School of Drama, Boloram Das has had interesting projects in his filmography. However, Pepper Chicken is where I was first introduced to him, and I must say that I’m duly impressed.
Boloram does an excellent job while displaying a wide range of emotions. When he shows his kindness towards Vaidehi, he really appears to be the good samaritan. On the reverse, he is equally convincing as a dirty villain in those moments in which he indulges in physical and verbal altercations. His facial movements, especially the rolling of his eyes, communicate a lot; even without words, they speak volumes. This is an actor who is born to stay in the film industry!
Dipannita Sharma is brilliant and joins Boloram in carrying the narrative forward with finesse and propriety. You will at once relate to her character because she seems very real as the cool, casual, and hip-and-happening RJ. Again, your heart will cry out for her when she’s in utter distress, enveloped by fear and helplessness. Those expressions of hers are priceless as her face grows pale, giving an impression as though she is surrounded by ghosts.
The actor is definitely on a roll with a series of promising projects and has proven her potential in the recent short film Saving Chintu which is all set to run for Oscar 2021. I feel that we need to continue seeing her film presence in the future to get a treat of her acting prowess!
Pepper Chicken is embedded in fine layers of shock and suspense, and the music largely contributes in creating the tense atmosphere. The song “Confusion Hain” by the immensely talented singer Papon is soothing to the ears and hints that chaos is on the way!
The script could have been a bit tighter because it takes a while for the tension to set in. But once the pace develops, the viewer becomes a part of the world of the characters, waiting for the mystery to unfold.
Do Vaidehi and the cab driver carry baggage from the past that is intruding into the present? Do any of them have shades of grey in their characters? These and many other questions will keep surfacing till the very end as you seek to find the solution to the equation.
A film succeeds in qualifying as an engrossing psychological thriller when the audience embarks on an earnest mission, trying to put together the pieces of the puzzle in the experiment. Pepper Chicken succeeds in this dimension because you will never stop trying to make sense of the disjointed pieces. You may experience a few frustrating moments thinking that the story is rather unintelligible. Hold on with patience and attention because the final moments in the film will unravel the enigma and make you marvel at the art of skillful story telling!
Your journey in the film will not end in a cul-de-sac; the route is open ended. Assumptions and inferences will keep streaming in your mind, and there lies the uniqueness of this psychological thriller!
(Pepper Chicken is currently streaming on ShemarooMe )
Image source: book my show website
Born in India, Rashmi Bora Das moved to the United States in the early nineties.
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