Kashish Film Festival Explores Indian Flavors
Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival drew its curtain to yet another edition of striking and heartwarming movies. With a staggering number of over 182 films from over 53 countries the seventh edition of the festival brought the best of LGBT cinema from around the world. From the moment the festival was inaugurated on May 25 2016, by luminary Sir Ian Mckellen, to the closing movie Those People screened on May 29, it was one cinematic experience interspersed with thought-provoking panel discussions.
A segment that caught our attention was the ‘Indian Masala Mix’, which is the most attended package of short films and was showcased on May 28 and 29. Divided into two sections, the session displayed the perfect blend of emotions and varied flavors. What sets these films apart is that the core themes now move beyond simply coming out of the closet, to narrating stories of what happens once you are out of the closet. Though previously films highlighted the issues faced by homosexuals trying to lead a life in a repressed society, now they are moving forward to show the growing strength of the community in a starker manner. Moreover, there are glimpses of support and understanding from families, which was not as prevalent before as it is today.
One part of the ‘Indian Masala Mix’ screened six short films that brought forth varied sentiments by giving a different perspective to emotions that one normally takes for granted.
The session commenced with Unkahi Unsuni Kahani (Untold Unheard Story) directed by Nakshatra Bagwe. The movie has absolutely no dialogues, yet conveys a strong message through symbolism. The film turns a simple act of climbing a stairway to represent the struggle faced by homosexual people. The protagonist faces a struggle on each turn of the stairway which is depicted through images that are harsh and powerful. But he overcomes each phase, collecting souvenirs on the way, which make up the color of a rainbow that ultimately saves him.
The next film, That One Night, was directed by Karan Vohra. The film explores the different tones of a relationship. Primarily, the film deals with our innate need to develop connections with another person. It talks about how a one night stand has the potential of developing into something much more long-lasting by just sharing simple hopes and dreams with each other.
Deepak Miglani’s Sandclock was the next film in the segment. The story starts when a middle-aged man who is recently divorced reluctantly invites a date over at his house. The date turns out to be an 18 year boy, who reminds him of his own son. A son he hasn’t seen since his divorce and who he thinks might hate him for his choice of sexuality. Though the main protagonist is gay, he claims to be a bisexual, because there is a misconception that being a bisexual can be considered to be less queer. Here the roles are reversed as it is this 18-year-old kid, who in the course of one night, helps him come face to face with his sexuality. Though the film deals with strong emotions like self-acceptance and hope it has moments of humor that make the film even more engaging.
Another heartwarming story in the segment was the Tamil film Manam. Directed by Balaji M, the film tells the story of two transwomen, Priyanka and Ramya. Though they face societal challenges, they live as independent individuals. But Priyanka feels incomplete and the only thing that can complete her as a woman is a child. One day Ramya brings home a child, a child that Priyanka later discover is lost and whose family is frantically looking for. The film beautifully captures the maternal instinct along with the heart ache of finding and losing a child.
Srikant Ananthkrishnan and Vikrant Dhote’s Any Other Day talks about the disturbing behavior of police officers whose job is to protect and not interfere in the private business of individuals. In the name of safety, two police officers delve into the personal and intimate relationship between Kabir and Arnav. Though the movie clearly deals with the police’s misconduct, but the main hero of the movie is Arnav’s mother, who comes to defend her son. Her words hit right the mark when she says, “There is no crime in loving.”
The ‘Indian Masala Mix’ concluded with the Marathi movie The Threshold directed by Nishant Roy Bombarde. The movie that received a National award in the category of Non Feature Film revolves around Pankaj, an adolescent who is discovering his sexuality. At an age where he is just realizing the difference between the two genders, he is torn between the stereotypical views of the society and his natural urge to identify with women. The film shows Pankaj’s struggle and his hesitancy to accept himself because of the society. The film is simply lovely in the way it captures the innocence of the protagonist. From his affinity to dress-up to his first crush, everything is tinged with an innocent curiosity. But again, the real hero in the film is Pankaj’s mother who, in the end, dresses Pankaj and encourages him to cross the threshold.
Each of these films brought forth sentiments and feelings that are not limited to only homosexual people. They show sentiments and situations that are common to each one of us, thus blurring the lines of distinction created by society. Once again, the Kashish film festival successfully explored a myriad of emotions and enthralled all with their wonderful line of up of films.
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