Tag Archives: Anil Kapoor

#LetLoveBe — On a New Road

The first two months of 2019 are seeing the release of two films — Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga and Evening Shadows that may just open up the conversation around same-sex relationships in Indian families. January 11 saw the release of Evening Shadows, a film that talks about a gay man coming out to his conservative family and the consequences of his decision.

Feb 1 will see the release of Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga (ELKDTAL) that is strongly hinting at lesbian love and family acceptance. Could these films bring about a conversation between Indian LGBTQ children and their parents, many of whom find it hard to accept alternate sexuality?

Evening Shadows tells the story of Karthik (Devansh Doshi), a photographer who goes back to his home town from Mumbai and reveals to his conservative mother (played by Mona Ambegaonkar) that he is gay. The film is about the mother’s journey to come to terms with her son’s homosexuality. It’s also the story of a woman in a patriarchal set up standing up to her husband (Ananth Mahadevan) for herself and her son.

Evening Shadows released to mixed reviews from critics but has been universally acknowledged for its theme and intention. ELKDTAL is already creating a huge Twitter buzz thanks to its trailer that says #LetLoveBe. Produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra and directed by Shelly Chopra Dhar, what’s getting the film’s trailer a lot of eyeballs is a mainstream actress like Sonam Kapoor playing the lead. The trailer shows Sonam speaking of a secret she cannot share with anyone and ends with her holding hands and sitting with another girl.

Films broaching the subject of homosexuality have rarely made noise for the right reasons in India. Film maker Deepa Mehta’s 1996 film Fire (1996) sparked a controversy; Onir’s My Brother Nikhil (2005) wasn’t noticed much. Aligarh (2016), based on a true story, was released in 2016 after Censor Board cuts. It was critically acclaimed but didn’t make an impact on a mass scale.

There are hopes for a change, though.

On September 6, 2018, the Supreme Court of India struck down Section 377, a colonial law that criminalized homosexuality. Despite the positive judgement and an emerging conservation around India on LGBTQ rights, talking about sexual orientation remains a taboo topic in India, especially among families.

Shelley Chopra Dhar, the director of ELKDTAL, hopes her film might be a catalyst in some people’s lives. In a voiceover to the film’s trailer she adds, “There is nothing, no problem, no issue, no entanglements in our brain that cannot be cleared by just changing our perspective.”

Evening Shadows’ director, Sridhar Rangayan, feels the film has already made a dent in some ways. “Those who have seen Evening Shadows in India and many parts of the world have said this film mirrors the kind of conversations that they have had with their parents already, or offers them hope to begin conversations. There has been a barrage of requests on social media for the film to be available widely so youngsters can show it to their families. Many want to come out to their parents by showing this film. Even non-LGBTQ youngsters have said that the film shows the divide between generations and the need for conversations.”

Evening Shadows

Saagar Gupta, creative director and dialogue writer of Evening Shadows, thinks such films could be the flashpoint in starting that dialogue of understanding and acceptance within families.

Queer representation in Hindi cinema has usually been more caricatures than sensitive — remember the shocked Kantabai from Kal Ho Na Ho (2003)? Despite occasional gems like Aligarh, movies focused on a queer theme have not made much of a social impact either. In a post-377 environment, the release of two movies focused on the queer theme and family acceptance could probably be a sign of times to come.  

Rangayan, who with real-life partner Gupta, started writing the Evening Shadows screenplay almost seven years ago ends with a note of hope: “though the verdict regarding Sec 377 kept changing in between, but our film’s end remains the same right through as our intention was to bring forth the much-needed dialogue between Indian LGBTQ children with their families and vice-versa.”

Hindi films often act as a social impact catalyst for issues that Indians find difficult to talk about. They also have the power to introduce new ideas. Earlier in 2018, a Hindi film called Padman went a long way in starting conversations around menstruation. Perhaps films like Evening Shadows and ELKDTAL could work towards easing the conversation in Indian families around having same-sex partners.


Not an easy road yet

With 15 international awards and a 54 film festiva run, Sridhar Rangayan and Saagar Gupta thought there will be a beeline for distributing Evening Shadows. “But we realized soon enough that a LGBTQ feature film with no known star cast is a tough sell in India. The distribution system still goes by the book, as much as the Censor Board – only here the rule book is commercial viability. There are no risk takers,” says Rangayan.

Evening Shadows is directed by Rangayan and written by Rangayan and Gupta. They eventually released the film themselves by turning distributors with their company Solaris Picture. Rangayan adds, “We did a limited release of 15 shows in 6 cities and are now planning to release the film in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities in India where such films can make a huge difference.”

The tepid reaction Rangayan and Gupta got from mainstream Bollywood producers and directors is probably reason enough to make more films that focus on taking the queer conversation forward.


Evening Shadows (2019). Director: Sridhar Rangayan. Writers: Saagar Gupta  & Sridhar Rangayan. Cast: Mona Ambegaonkar, Ananth Narayan Mahadevan, Devansh Doshi. Music: Shubha Mudgal. Producer & Distributor: Solaris Pictures.

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga (2019). Director: Shelly Chopra Dhar. Writer: Gazal Dhaliwal. Shelly Chopra Dhar. Cast: Sonam Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, Juhi Chawla, Rajkumar Rao, Regina Cassandra. Music: Rochak Kohli. Producer: Vidhu Vinod Chopra. Distributed by: Fox Star Studios, 20th Century Fox.


Reshmi Chakraborty is a freelance writer based in Pune. She writes on diverse themes and co-runs a startup for older adults. Read more at www.silvertalkies.com.

Photo credits: Solaris Films, Imdb.

This article was edited by Culture and Media Editor Geetika Pathania Jain.

Be Selfish and Allow Us to Watch Race 3 For You

Woo hoo, and Salman Khan is back in his full glory, with Race 3, sleepwalking, loaded with laid back charm for his loyal fans. Fighting without purpose, charming the women, sticking up for his family, supporting the bro, smirking and frowning his way through. Can we blame the man for choosing not to act? He has already pulled in 100 crores for the opening weekend, no less.

For better or worse, he doesn’t do it alone this time. The reconfigured Race franchise gives him company, along with ex-perts Anil Kapoor and Jacqueline Fernandez, who return in different avatars. Bobby Deol, Saqib Saleem and Daisy Shah are the new recruits, and together, this pentagon team shares the burden of this arduous venture directed by Remo D’Souza. It would have definitely been a missed opportunity, if it was an opportunity in the first place.

Race 1 (2008) and Race 2 (2013) were at best well-executed flukes. Unfortunately, Remo misses the point here by a long stretch. Abbas-Mustan didn’t come without their flaws but had the death-by-betrayal formula down pat. They know how to tell a story (without having a story). Thrills, action, suspense beats, and stars are the story here. Akshay Khanna, Saif Ali Khan, John Abraham and Deepika Padukone had earned their place here. The current crew disappoints. Her business can be all hers, but this franchise definitely ain’t Daisy’s. Saqib is boy (hood) lost in the woods. The only silver lining is Bobby — great to have the charmer back but the man and his chiseled body can only do so much. With the suspense zing missing, this venture hangs precariously in suspension, unsure whether to land or fly, like the stuck helicopter in one scene between two cars.

Anil Kapoor’s Shamsher Singh, an arms kingpin, starts off this wham bam party with panache, somewhere in a middle-east desert. A helicopter is flogged and an arms factory rescued with the help of an exploding gel pen. The flock of stars are introduced to us super slow, in prolonged sequences. Yawn! Considering their achievements later in the film don’t count for much, that is as good as it gets.

So we have Shamsher’s spewing twins, daughter Sanjana (Daisy Shah) who digs extreme sports, and son Suraj (Saqib Saleem) who has a thing for nothing. Second in command to Shamsher in this no-business is Sikander Singh (Salman Khan), his adopted son, whose fancy car makes a grand arrival before him. Yash Singh (Bobby Deol) is Sikander’s right hand and general purpose eye candy. Finally, there is the routine romantic placement, Jessica (Jacqueline Fernandez), only that she does her fair share of action and fights. Come to think of it, both Daily and Jacqueline are alert and dexterous, and the only ones performing with utter seriousness.

That is all there is to it, folks. Don’t risk it, I’d say. Or better still, watch Veere Di Wedding. That story looks Oscar-nomination level worthy now, if we compare notes. Oh, and the songs in Race 3 have more energy than the scenes, yarn and shaan put together. They worked better than the bland narrative. Some numbers were unintentionally amusing, some sprightly, and some onerous.

Allah Duhai Hai, rendered by Amit Mishra, Jonita Gandhi, Sreerama Chandra, and Raja Kumari, works musically, until you see the entire cast and their lost splendour together. What were they thinking (or, not) again?

I must confess that Heeriye (Deep Money, Neha Bhasin, Kamaal Khan) felt groovy as, and a welcome relief from, the ridiculous drama on screen. Jacqueline, especially, takes to the pole in the song as if her life depended on it. Like, please don’t make me go back to the scenes and dialogue again. The feisty beauty even manages to get Salman out of the stationary zone. Viral Uncleji to the rescue?

Salman and partner Iulia Vantur make some music. He writes lyrics for two songs, I Found Love and Selfish (three versions). She sings three, Selfish, Party Chale On (lively) and Saansein Hui Dhuaan (buoyant), her voice does have groove.

Selfish appears out of nowhere, and looks like it doesn’t have anywhere to disappear either. Party Chale On does its job. Salman sings I Found Love, picturised on him and Jacqueline, with care. The look and feel of the song sweeps in straight from the eighties though, seeking its lost time zone. His singing has potential in case he wants a change from (not) acting but the lyrics (sample below), err… have a life of their own.

I Found Love

Nobody knows what the future holds for us

Let’s give it our best

Oh jaana jaana jaana oh baby!

Jab saath hote hain

Jab paas hote hain

Roobaroo hote hi

Meri rooh teri rooh se kahe…

I found love, I found love

I found love, I found it in you…

 

Selfish

Ik baar baby selfish hoke

Apne liye jiyo na

If you have survived this review, pat yourself on the back. Thank me for watching Race 3 so that you don’t have to. Salman Khan fans (including yours truly) will not listen but you know better. Ik baar Baby selfisssh hokeapne liye jiyo na.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

Race 3. Director: Remo D’Souza. Writer: (cough) Shiraz Ahmed. Players: Anil Kapoor, Salman Khan, Jacqueline Fernandez, Bobby Deol, Saqib Saleem, Daisy Shah. Music: Salim-Sulaiman. Theatrical release: Tips Films, Salman Khan Films.

Hamida Parkar is a freelance journalist and founder-editor of cinemaspotter.com. She writes on cinema, culture, women and social equity.