Out of the shadows
Having travelled to 50 international film festivals, a family drama on the LGBTQ theme is set to have a theatrical release across four cities
It wouldn't be wrong to say that the trajectory of Evening Shadows, an award-winning film about a son coming out to his mother, coincides with that of the Indian LGBTQ movement's milestones. The film's story had been on director Sridhar Rangayan's mind for several years before it transformed into a script - much like how the queer community in the country had to wait for decades, battling fear, hatred and misconceptions, before it could embrace its own identity openly.
The film was released in the festival circuit in early 2018, when consensual sex among adult homosexual men in India was still a crime. And now, in the first Pride month after the landmark Supreme Court verdict that decriminalised homosexuality, it is ready for a theatrical release.
Shubha Mudgal, who has composed and sung the song Surmai Shaam in the film, with Saagar Gupta (right) and Sridhar Rangayan
"Evening Shadows travelled to over 50 international film festivals, where it received an overwhelming response, winning both jury and audience-choice awards. But this critical acclaim did not translate into the Indian distribution system," says Rangayan, referring to how the film couldn't reach a wider audience, as the business model multiplexes follow has little or no room for independent films. "That's why our new tie-up could be the beginning of a change," he adds. Rangayan's team has collaborated with a theatre-on-demand platform, which allows users to hire commercial theatres for film screenings, thereby potentially increasing a film's visibility.
And it looks like the idea has taken off, considering all the tickets have been sold out for the first day tomorrow. The movie will also be screened in the same multiplex chain in Delhi, Bengaluru and Kolkata.
"While we have booked a few screenings, other organisations like the Canadian Consulate General in Mumbai, the Godrej group, and NGOs like the Humsafar Trust have booked other days to support our production," Rangayan shares. Senior actor Anant Mahadevan, who plays a central character in the movie, rues the fact that films with good content need to look for alternative avenues. "On the one hand, we want cinema that won't insult our sensibilities, and when it is made, there is a struggle to reach the audiences," he says, "I am glad Sridhar has found this platform, which could change things."
Rangayan also hopes to take the film to the audiences in small towns, where the film is set. "While there had been other movies made on the LGBTQ identity in India, few had looked at it from the point of view of parents. Because in a traditional family, when you come out to your parents, you push them in the closet as it becomes a family secret," he says. The screenplay of the film, written by Saagar Gupta, deals with these nuances through its characters challenging a patriarchal set-up.
The film's title itself, too, lends itself as an apt descriptor of the fate of the theatre-on-demand experiment. "Evening is this transitory, comforting phase where you can share your truth," says Rangayan. "And then you leave it to the morning to see if the truth you have told works."
TILL: January 17, 3 pm to 6 pm
AT: PVR Dynamix, Juhu.
LOG ON TO: vkaao.com/movie-details/2019/evening-shadows
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