All of us, as individuals, are unique. Our differences are what define us. Why must then we penalise those who do not conform to the norms of the majority? Why must one suffer due to another’s ignorance and fears? These questions might seem rhetoric to anyone with even an inkling of logical faculties. But often these very things seem unnatural and offensive, even to those who consider themselves ‘highly educated’ when it comes to matters concerning sexuality. Even to this day, in the golden age of science and civilization, we, as a community, are so parochial and hypocritical.
My Son is Gay tries to bring forth this aspect of the society. But along with that the film also highlights individuals on the other end of the spectrum. The compassionate and the empathetic. The film does an excellent job showing both sides with realism and sensitivity. It gives us an accurate picture of reality and acts as a mirror of the societal makeup.
The movie is a heartfelt, genuine effort; a wake-up call to people around the world. It is a sincere and honest attempt to stop the dehumanisation of the LGBT community. My Son is Gay makes a strong case for individuals who are tormented by those around them for something that is beyond their control. The way the characters have been represented and portrayed is very true to life. Their emotions translate to screen and reach us. It’s cathartic as much as it’s overwhelming to watch Varun, a teenager who is grappling with his sexuality and struggling to be accepted by his friends and family, as he goes through the various experiences of life.
My Son is Gay is one of the best and most believable on-screen portrayals of a gay relationship. I felt something truly magical about the relationship. Not for a moment did I feel that there was something unpretentious or unnatural about it. Everything was so organic and natural. It just flowed. Not too long back, there was a law in this country that ‘prohibited’ love. It’s shameful how religion and society have long stood in the way of it. And the film is able to bring out, with emotional expertise, the true meaning of love.
My Son is Gay also explores the reason behind homophobia and the misconceptions related to it. One shot perfectly encapsulates this. And it’s a brief one. The simplicity and the ease with which the film deals with some inconvenient truths is noteworthy. Philosophical and deep subjects like these are explored with genuine ease. I loved the treatment of the subject. It, in no way, trivializes the serious and sensitive issues but at the same time doesn’t take itself too seriously.
The film deftly takes up universal concepts and confines them within a small setting. This makes it much more easier to grasp. Another creative aspect I applaud is the choice of muting expositional dialogue and replacing it with beautiful and scene-specific music. Thank god for no cliched flashbacks and repetitive dialogues.
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This usually happens when one character tells another about some event. And more often than not, the audience has already witnessed the event. That makes the goings on tedious. Director Lokesh Kumar intelligently handles those bits. The choice of music is brilliant. The music itself is mesmerising. Our ears feast on a mix-tape of classical and contemporary music, which also adds to the quality of the film.
One of my favourite scenes in My Son is Gay is when the friends come together to support Varun. The scene says so much with so little effort. When one friend stands up for her gay friend, the others soon follow suit. It only takes one to change the world. Little drops of water make the mighty ocean, after all. That message is rendered effortlessly. Their subsequent fun time on the beach is a joy to watch. The joy of true acceptance exuberates from Varun and reaches us, the audience. I felt like I was sharing their happiness in these scenes.
The climax is open-ended and I loved that about it. The relation between the mother and son is so perfect. The shift in the mother’s character from a loving, caring figure in the protagonist’s life to one of an antagonist is remarkable. Before the climax, the mother-son relationship has been explored so deeply that the payoff seems justified despite being open-ended. We kind of know what will happen by now because the movie gives us a clear message that time heals all wounds. But again, I must commend the incredible depiction and execution of the beautiful, nuanced and multi-layered relationship between the mother and son, Varun.
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The effect that Varun’s sexual preferences have on their day-to-day lives is devastating for them both. The recurring symbol of the poster with the words “Relationships never die a natural death. They are killed by EGO, ATTITUDE, IGNORANCE” is one of the most powerful ones used in the movie in conjuncture with the goldfish. The death of the goldfish during the last act is a haunting and poignant symbol that will stay with me for a long time.
At this point, I must also point out the brilliant cinematography (Rathina Kumar) and camerawork. Especially, the nature shots. They were other-worldly. I couldn’t help gawk at them the entire time. The locations are spellbinding. It makes an interesting commentary on ignorance and isolation that few can achieve only through the use of locations. The imagery of the endless seas and the boundless skies sits so well with the plot that the movie would feel incomplete without them. All probably symbolic of the fact that homosexuality is but a natural expression of sexuality.
Applause is in order for the treatment of the film as much as the brave subject it chooses. Each and every scene is valid and essential. Not a single moment feels wasted. The long pauses and stationary shots complement the intelligence of the viewers. The movie makes some revelations but also gives us ample time to internally deliberate over these.
The film is quite brave in its portrayal. The angle of demonising the mother is intriguing yet a realistic take on the entire situation and issue.
The performances are brilliant, the premise and plot enlightening, the cinematography a visual marvel and the music, sublime. It’s hard to nitpick here. Every relationship is well-explored. Even a character that entered late was utilised to its fullest potential.
My Son is Gay is one of the most sensitive and heartfelt pieces I have recently witnessed. Highly recommended!
By Deepjyoti Roy
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