Esha Deol’s short film Cakewalk makes big points in a short while. The film discusses the taboo surrounding divorce and working women, which is a relevant question to be posited in this day and age in the subcontinent.
Esha Deol stars as a young divorced chef who is going through money troubles and is trying to stay on top of everything, be it her job or mounting credit card payments. Directed by debutante Ram Kamal Mukherjee and Abhra Chakraborty, the film closely follows Esha’s character, Shilpa Sen, who has left behind a turbulent marriage to pursue her passion for cooking.
The story takes place in a fancy hotel where Shilpa is a cookery contest winner. But the film opens with her trying to balance her chaotic life with money troubles plaguing her on one hand, and having to deal with sniggering co-workers, on the other. However that very day, Shilpa is asked to bake a very fancy cake for a prominent guest who is coming to town. The story takes a turn when the guest finally arrives and gets to taste Chef Shilpa’s cake. And that gives her the much-needed closure, financially and emotionally.
Esha’s performance is quite easily the strongest highlight of this 20-minute film. She is convincing and doesn't oversell the drama at any point. The actress manages to create the much needed impact to tell this simple story. What is unfortunate is that while Cakewalk had a very strong theme and a strong enough actor to sell the plot, it could have benefited immensely from crisper direction and stronger dialogue. The film lags at various points and for a short, it’s quite an overkill. However, the core conflict which is relatable to many women among the South Asian diaspora, manages to keep you interested.