Film: Evening Shadows
Cast: Ananth Mahadevan, Mona Ambegoankar, Devansh Doshi, Arpit Choudhary, Veena Nair, Abhay Kulkarni
Director: Sridhar Rangayan
Rating: * * ½
Sridhar Rangayan’s latest film is set in the backdrop of Section 377 being declared illegal after a four year (2009-2013) hiatus – so the film obviously feels dated given that homosexuality is no longer a crime (struck down in 2018) in India. The emotions and the issue it depicts though, are very much validating given the conservativeness and rigid dogma that governs Indian societal strictures, values and beliefs.
Rangayan’s narrative posits a young, professional photographer, Karthik’s (Devansh Doshi) attempts to come-out to his parents against the aspirational attempts of the LGBTQi community to legally free themselves from decades of oppression and repression. Either ways it’s tough going.
Although produced via crowd-funding, ‘Evening Shadows’ has the production values of a mainstream product. It’s a well-made film replete with good acting and ameliorating tech credits. Amar Mohile’s semi-classical background score with Shubha Mudgal singing ‘Behti Hai’ lends strong pathos to the drama playing out here. Set in South India (Srirangapatna) and Mumbai, the film movingly portrays the angst of the young, same-sex couple grappling with the dilemma of how to gain acceptance from a community that is unable to look beyond the conventional and safe. The chief players of this drama include Aman (Arpit Chaudhary), Karthik’s mother Vasuda (Mona Ambegoankar), his father (Ananth Mahadevan), his aunt (Veena Nair) and his uncle Ramesh (Abhay Kulkarni).
The family construct here is typically patriarchal and despotic so stereotypes are bound to arise. The film also tries to educate, while busting myths and securing a path towards acceptance. Rangayan’s emphatic spread borders on hysterics and melodrama. While nuance and subtleties are missing in this exaggerated effort to convey a viewpoint, the film does manage to stir up some genuine emotion with decent, largely unaffected performances.