Evening Shadows Movie Review is out. The gay coming of age family drama directed by Sridhar Rangayan starring Mona Ambegaonkar and Devansh Doshi has travelled the festival circuit and received nods in its circuit. Let’s find out in Evening Shadows movie review what Sridhar Rangayan has to say on gay coming of age.
What is Evening Shadows all about?
A gay coming of age saga set in the conservative south Indian family.
What is the plot/story of Evening Shadows?
Vashudha (Mona Ambegaonkar ) a conservative mother in India is living a normal life with his typical Indian husband Damodar (Ananth Narayan Mahadevan) a government employee. The world of Vashudha turns upside down when she learns that her beloved son Kartik (Devansh Doshi) is gay. How she confronts her beliefs and struggles between denial and acceptance on her son’s sexual preference finds the crux of this family drama that is set during the times when Section 377 declared gay relationship as illegal.
A gay coming of age saga is a genre in itself worldwide and EVENING SHADOWS speaks about times when gay relationship was illegal. So, the debate/drama loses considerable steam and appears out dated as now it’s not an offence or a crime. The story is a familiar one, the helmer Sridhar Rangayan, who is also co written the script with Saagar Gupta, is also a known LGBT activist and that may be the reason why the significant part is the depiction of the community that leaves a ‘double life’ somewhat akin to the great Pedro Almodóvar’s groundbreaking ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER (1999) starring Penélope Cruz where the conflict of a transgender is masterfully depicted when he abandons his own child and meets her when she grows up. Here the aghast or say desperation of those married man with children who secretly nurture the desire to be with men is explored. The episode of Ramesh uncle (Abhay Kulkarni) Kartik’s first lover who lures for him on his return highlights the plight nicely. EVENING SHADOWS religiously follows the basic template of an Indian melodrama and at times gets unnecessarily loud but still the movie in a way serves as a ready reckoner for parents who struggle for acceptance regarding their child’s gay preference. The movie does counter, probes stereotypes and prejudice on issues like being a gay is a disease, what will the world say, what went wrong in the upbringing, the right age of marriage and having a child, what will I say, is it normal, what about ‘family’, future etc etc.
Sridhar Rangayan has narrated the movie as a family saga, opening up with a traditional south Indian ceremony that is having a dual celebration, the coming back of the young Kartik from Mumbai and his engagement with his childhood friend. Sridhar tries to send the message through a family drama and ends up with the character of the mother played by Mona Ambegaonkar getting the maximum sympathy. The director like a typical melodrama uses Shubha Mudgal’s soulful number "behti hai, sahti hai" to good effect. The approach is simple most of the times. However, the relationship of Kartik with Aman is too mushy mushy.. may be to prove that its sweet and not a sour sin but there was no need to be extra sugary to prove the warmth. The final outburst of Vasudha is a scene that brings both the mom and the son out of the closet. Here Sridhar Rangayan achieves the triumph, the first step of Vasudha towards the ‘existence’ of Kartik even after his sexual preferences turns into a giant leap of a women who squashes the believes of her dominant husband Damodar who often shoos away Vasundha by calling her ‘hopeless’. Vasudha strongly confronts Damodar and the associated prejudice of married man and the status of women in Indian households. It’s an outburst that may be residing in many Indian women but is not getting the escape due to lack of courage or other reasons.
Mona Ambegaonkar as the loving caring mother is the mother that everybody wants. The actress delivers a performance that thoroughly competent, nuanced and extremely lovable. The actress displays the aghast, joy, worry naturally without going overboard and delivers a hauntingly endearing performance. Ananth Narayan Mahadevan as the dominating husband gives a measured and assured performance that puts weight to the debate from the traditional side the one that follows the prejudice. Secured job, right age of marriage, system, tradition, customs etc. It’s the firm and clear nature of the ‘wrong’ in Damodar’s character that infuses the ‘right’ felling in Vasudha, Kartik and the audience. Ananth Narayan Mahadevan makes sure that the audience questions Damodar’s moves and gain sympathy towards Vasudha and Kartik. Devansh Doshi as Kartik is fine. Arpit Chaudhary as Aman is okay. Abhay Kulkarni leaves his mark. Yamini Singh as the aunt has her moments.
Sridhar Rangayan’s EVENING SHADOWS isn,t ground breaking cinema on the LGBT community, it’s in a way outdated as the latest verdict on Section 377 has declared that homosexuality is no longer a crime. Still, this coming of age gay saga placed in a traditional setting does serve as a pocket book guide to parents who struggle for acceptance regarding their child’s gay preference. It challenges myths and opens gates towards acceptance and is a smiling wink towards humanity.