Review: Evening Shadows
Sridhar Rangyan is known for his championing of LGBT+ rights and his movies depicting the challenges faced by the community in India where, till recently, homosexuality was a crime. His latest offering, Evening Shadows is a coming out story. But more than that, it is the story of a bond between a mother and her son and how she struggles to come to terms with the revelation that her only son is gay.
The film is set in a conservative small town family in South India with Damodar (Ananth Mahadevan), a tyrannical father who believes that homosexuality is against Indian culture, values and ethics,;Vasudha (Mona Ambegaonkar), the mother who is the typical Indian housewife, one who obeys her husband, and whose life revolves around taking care of her family and their gay son Kartik (Devansh Doshi) who is a photographer in Mumbai and is in a committed relationship with another man, but hasn’t told his parents yet. They think Aman is his roommate.
In the backdrop is the aunt, Sarita (Yamini Singh) who has left her abusive husband and is crticised by Kartik’s father for her inability to manage her own life and marriage when she attempts to advise him not to force Kartik into marriage; the uncle Ramesh (Abhay Kulkarni), a closeted homosexual who has married to satisfy his family, and who had sexually abused Kartik in childhood, and who still seems to have a thing for his handsome nephew; Aman (Arpit Chaudhary) whose mother has not talked to him since the day he came out to her; and there is the 2013 SC judgement which reinstated section 377 overturning the Delhi HC verdict. In view of the recent SC judgement declaring section 377 as unconstitutional, the 2013 verdict is now moot, but the reactions of Kartik and Aman to the judgement and Kartk’s fears on how it will make it even more difficult for his mother to accept his reality are all brought out well.
The film does seem to border on propaganda at times, but considering its theme, that’s only natural. The propaganda part is not “the-in-your-face” kind, but subtle and is incorporated naturally into the dialogues. The bond between Kartik and his mother is natural and easy and both actors have done an amazing job in their roles. Though some of the changes in Vasudha does seem based on the ideal rather than the real, her acceptance and support of Kartik in the end leaves no one unsurprised. As she tells her husband, whatever or whoever Kartik is, he is hers. If only more mothers had as much strength to stand up for their children!
Kartik’s relation with Aman is mostly phone calls to and from, but the audience is left in no doubt about the depth of their feelings for each other or of how committed they are to each other. They support each other, and have plans to grow old together. They are a cute couple in the only scene we get to see them together. Both Devansh Doshi and Arpit Chaudhary are excellent in their roles.
Ananth Mahadevan as the ultra conservative Damodar who kicks out Kartik and performs his funeral rites has also rendered a noteworthy performance and the supporting cast are also good, but the star of the movie is undoubtedly Mona Ambegaonkar who is simply stellar as Vasudha.
Evening Shadows is heartwarming and beautiful. It is more than a film about homosexuality – it is about the bond between a mother and a child, and how that bond is capable of withstanding even things beyond the mother’s comprehension. As Vasudha tells Kartik towards the end, she may never comprehend homosexuality, but she will always accept and support him. And ultimately, what more can anyone ask for? This is a movie that’s definitely worth watching whether you are gay or not, whether you support LGBT+ rights or not, because the themes depicted are universal, the struggle for acceptance in a world that’s too eager to tell people who they should be and is too quick to judge them for being different.