A person’s sexuality has always been a taboo subject when it comes to a country like India. Moreover, when you have to come out to your parents and families, it becomes extremely challenging. September 6, 2018 will be not just a Red-Letter day but a Rainbow hued one for queer millions in India. It’s the day we gained Independence from the oppressive and regressive Sec 377. However, the war to win is the one about changing mindsets. And that war is a long way from WON, in fact it has only just begun!
Fighting this war is India’s first LGBT feature film after the decriminalisation of Sec 377, “Evening Shadows”. Incidentally, the film’s narrative is set around 11 December 2013. This is when the Supreme Court set aside the 2009 Delhi High Court order and recriminalized consensual homosexual activity.
Set in a small town in South India, the film takes you on a journey, showcasing how a loving mother in a patriarchal society, stands up for her gay son. Evening Shadows while offering a helping hand to parents of LGBTQ children in understanding basic issues related with their child’s sexuality, also urges children to be more patient with their parents on this journey. Ananth Mahadevan plays the strict father who comes with his set of fixed and orthodox beliefs. Mona Ambegaonkar, on the other hand, perfectly depicts the role of a mother caught between her husband and son, both having their own views to go about life.
The gay protagonist’s role is played by Devansh Doshi. According to the actor himself the character is far-far away from the stereotypically written gay characters in Bollywood.
The film is directed by National Award winner Sridhar Rangayan and produced by Solaris Pictures. Sridhar, who is himself gay, is amazed by the positive reaction the film has gotten on social media. “We conceived this film 7 years ago. It has been an eventful journey bringing this film to the audiences it’s meant for – Families.
Families, not only of LGBTQ children, but families in general who have to understand and accept differences in point of view of their next generation. We are so glad that after winning hearts for the past one year of its film festival run around the world, it will now release in theaters to reach mass audience. While we are happy with the awards and acclaim the film has won, the real litmus test would be to see how youngsters and families embrace this film,” said Sridhar.
Saagar Gupta, who is the producer of the film said, “Evening Shadows and it’s characters were born out of this imperative need to change the general mindset of public towards the LGBTQ people. Most of the time, they are either mocked or loathed in Indian films. That has surely maligned their image in public. Though with time, filmmakers’ are becoming more sensitized in portraying the community. Still there is so much reclamation to be done for the benefit of young generation and their parents. As writers & filmmakers it’s our onus to bring forth their stories in much respectable and much relatable manner.”
Rangayan went beyond just making a heart-warming film about a mother trying to come to terms about her gay son. It also championed a cause by starting a support group for parents of Indian LGBTQ children called ‘Sweekar – The Rainbow Parents’ . It has close to 50 members now. Many of these parents who have seen the film say that it mirrors their own lives!
Shubham Mehrotra, founder and CEO, Laudco Media and digital marketing partner of Evening Shadows is of the opinion that the film not only offers a helping hand to parents of LGBTQ+ children in understanding basic issues related with their child’s sexuality but also urges children to be more patient with their parents on this journey, and it does so quite successfully.
“We are extremely excited to partner with Evening Shadows. It has been one of the biggest hits of 2018 among the LGBTQ and South Asian film festival circuit. As their digital media partner we hope to bring about a conversation around LGBTQIA inclusivity and acceptance.”
With the help of Laudco’s Fifty Shades of Gay project (www.fiftyshadesofgay.co.in) which focuses on topics that are taboo in India and aren’t openly discussed, such as importance of family planning and LGBTQIA stories, Mehrotra feels this film should be able to find resonance among its intended target audience.
The film features a beautiful song ‘Surmaee Shaam’. This is composed and sung by eminent singer Shubha Mudgal, with lyrics by Saagar Gupta who has also written dialogues for the film.
Evening Shadows has been loved on its international festivals journey. It has bagged 13 international film awards. This is including Jury Awards, Audience Choice Awards, and two Best Actor Awards for Mona Ambegaonkar. Moreover, it won the Best Feature Film at the recently concluded Chicago South Asian Film Festival in the USA.
The film premieres on the 10th of January, 2019 and releases across major cities of India.
By Abhishek Aggarwal