Lonavala, 13 Dec 2018 9:00 IST
Updated: 13 Jan 2019 5:01 IST
The film, directed by Sridhar Rangayan, treats a homosexual relationship like any other love story.
A young man returns to his hometown after a long time. He is in for a surprise when he realizes that his family, especially his father, has almost fixed his marriage with a girl. The problem is that the guy loves someone else — a guy.
Today, when even inter-religious marriages are not fully accepted in India, one need not belabour the point about how gay relationships are looked down upon. But there is also no denying the reality about the acceptance of homosexuality slowly but surely over the years.
This has gradually started getting reflected in our films as well. Hansal Mehta’s Aligarh (2016) was a major example. Now we can add director Sridhar Rangayan’s Evening Shadows to the list of sensible and mature portrayals of homosexuality in Hindi cinema.
The film tells the story of Kartik [Devansh Doshi]. He returns to his hometown in Karnataka after spending four years in Mumbai. He has been working in the city as a photographer all these years. As soon as he returns, he is bewildered to see a young woman and her family waiting for him. They have been called by his father Damodar [Ananth Narayan Mahadevan] who wants Kartik to get married soon.
Damodar is a short-tempered patriarch who believes one should get married soon. He asks Kartik if he would be ready to marry the girl though he is not ready to accept a ‘no’ from him. His family is unaware that he is gay and in a happy relationship with Aman (Arpit Chaudhary), with whom he has been living in Mumbai. Kartik is close to his mother Vasudha (Mona Ambegaonkar). But will he confide in her? How will his father react?
To put it simply, Evening Shadows is treated like any other love story. If you delve deeper, the premise is like that of classic love stories like Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995). A person loves someone but is forced to marry someone else. The only difference here is that this love story is about two men.
This normalization of a queer love story is maintained throughout with innocence not only in the characters, but also in the narrative. This might help those who abhor such relationships to have a rethink.
Of course, the biggest challenge for such films is the part where the protagonist’s sexual orientation is revealed. The handling of this aspect is the biggest triumph of the film. Apart from being a film about two lovers, Evening Shadows has an appealing portrayal of a mother-son relationship.
The film has been shot in Karnataka and the visuals are pleasing. Subhransu’s camerawork plays a big part in it.
Amid such simplicity, it is surprising to see melodramatic elements in a few situations. This could have been avoided considering the simple route the film had been taking since the start.
The performances gel well with the nature of the film. Devansh Doshi is natural in his portrayal of Kartik. He appears like any other vulnerable young man in love rather than someone focusing on being gay. Mona Ambegaonkar is at her best as the mother torn between her son’s sexuality and husband’s patriarchal mindset.
Ananth Mahadevan induces fright in every sequence, even when he is not angry or offended. He is thoroughly believable as a father who is stricter than Amrish Puri of DDLJ. Arpit Chaudhary creates an impact though his screen time is limited.
Abhay Kulkarni plays a difficult and complicated role with ease. Yamini Singh is convincing as a Tamil woman despite being a North Indian.
Overall, Evening Shadows is a rare, sensible portrayal of homosexuality in a Hindi film.
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