The Indian film industry is just beginning to play catch up when it comes to dealing with controversial issues. Last year, I saw MY BROTHER NIKHIL, one of the first features to tackle AIDS. Director Sridhar Rangayan created a stir with his short film about drag queens GULABI AAINA (THE PINK MIRROR) in 2003. He has now tackled homosexuality head on in his debut feature film, YOURS, EMOTIONALLY!
The plot centers on a pair of chums from Leicester, England, Paul (Jack Lamport) and Ravi (Premjit) who visit a small town in India on the invitation of Ravi's Internet pal Jeh (Ashwin Shelar). Arriving in Shimoga, the English lads attend a gay party where Ravi meets Mani (Prateek Gandhi) and instantly falls in love. Of course, complications ensue. Ravi and Paul decide to remain in India for a few extra days and end up staying at a hotel run by an older gay couple, Murthy (Ikhlaq Khan) and Anna (Ajay Rohilla). After Paul has a brief encounter with Mani in a park frequented by men cruising one another, the two friends have a falling out. Ravi is determined to convince Mani to accompany him back to Great Britain, but Mani remains hesitant.
YOURS EMOTIONALLY! is essentially a film that focuses on love in the context of cultural differences. As much as Ravi is of Indian descent, he doesn't fully understand the conditions in the country. The movie does show that in spite of all the odds, same sex relationships are possible (as exemplified by Murthy and Anna) but it also demonstrates the prejudice and fears that are still present. Rangayan uses some surreal touches and includes several dream sequences that add a touch of the exotic to the project.
The film, which had its World Premier at NewFest, proved to be an audience pleaser. It was preceded by the short BEING BAD, directed by Laurence Coriat.