What lies beneath the surface of an ordinary middle-class existence? What happens when a timid housewife invites her husband's pretty lover to her house?
The 17-minute-long film stars Tisca Chopra of Taare Zameen Par fame, Adil Husain and Rasika Dugal. Incidentally, Chutney, which released in 2016, marked Chopra's debut as a producer. Chopra has also co-written the film along with its director Jyoti Kapur Das. And undoubtedly, she steals the show with her acting chops.
The film opens with a party scene in Model Town set in North India. Some men are laughing and chatting over drinks. In another corner, a group of women are gossiping about Vanita and mocking her origins from Ghaziabad. It's our first introduction to the protagonist, played by Chopra.
We're told that Vanita is not only a good cook but also manages the local association's work very well as she joins the group. One can barely recognise the otherwise gorgeous Chopra as the deglamourized bucktoothed housewife. A pretty and vivacious Rasika, played by Rasika Dugal, chats her up. All along, she exchanges flirtatious glances with Vanita's husband, Viri, played by Husain. Rasika then joins Viri at the drinks counter. In just a few strokes, the stage is set and the characters sharply etched.
Vanita agrees to share her culinary tips with Rasika and invites her over. What follows is a seemingly regular session of gossip over cold drinks and pakodas served with a biting chutney. "Kya dala hai chutney mein?," asks Rasika. Little does she know what she has unearthed.
A servant, Munna, played by Sumit Gulati, spits in the cold drinks before serving them. He lurks in the background like an evil presence. Another servant and another adulterous relationship looms large in the conversation. A tale within the tale unfolds as Vanita recalls her earlier help, Bhola and his wife -- and her brother-in-law.
She praises her husband's ability to lure both animals and people. "I'm from Ghaziabad, what do I know," she mocks herself. What follows is a creepy twist that will keep you on the edge.
Chutney works because of its strong script with all its ambiguities. It is inspired by the stories of famous Hindi writer Bhisham Sahni. Then there are its rooted characters, who come alive on screen. And above all, there's some superlative acting led by Chopra. Chopra described the film in one interview as the revenge of the ordinary people, who seem harmless and hence are ignored.