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Alim is an Indo-Canadian man currently living in London, England, the move in order to get away from what he feels is his repressive life in Toronto under the watchful and critical eye of his widowed mother, Nuru. For Nuru and her equally competitive sister Dolly, the perfect public Muslim persona is the most important thing in life. Back in London, Alim is free to live openly as a homosexual, of which his mother is not aware. He is in a loving relationship with his live-in British boyfriend, Giles. To navigate through his complicated life, Alim uses the spirit of 'Cary Grant' as his confidante and advisor. Feeling like her life is missing a daughter-in-law as Dolly prepares for her son's "perfect" wedding, Nuru decides to reconnect with Alim in London. Not yet ready to tell his mother of either Giles or his homosexual orientation, Alim, with Giles' support, hides any aspect of this fact for Nuru's visit. But as Giles is tested one turn after another during Nuru's visit, both Alim and... Written by
A very interesting movie ... mixed feelings about it though
WARNING: Not only spoilers but some personal comments/rants
Yeah, the premise is stale - multicultural (white/non-american) gay couple, homophobic mother, coming out etc. For most people, Cary Grant/Kyle Maclahan was the best aspect of the movie. Kyle Maclahan has clearly enjoyed himself, and it is a delight to watch him perform. But there is more to the movie. It is surprisingly realistic! Now reviewers I have a lot of respect for, including NY Times, have been harsh on the movie and that is understandable even though it's surprising. In my humble opinion, based on living in the South Asian culture for 27+ years of my life, I beg to differ.
The fundamental difference between the "Western" culture and the "Asian" culture, as I can see, is the disproportionate emphasis on family in Asian culture as opposed to individuality, privacy, and personal space. To give you an example, in all the time I lived in India (the first 22 years of my life), I never had my "own" room. Even my parents didn't have their bedroom. Everyone slept in the living room. We shared closets for keeping clothes, shelves for books etc. People grow up differently under such circumstances. You learn to "sacrifice" for the sake of family. A tremendous amount of the individual pride in the Western culture - all that living your life to the fullest extent, being what you want to be in life, making your own choices and learning to take responsibility for them - is lost. It resurfaces as family pride. You do everything for your family. Your family has to be the best it can be. Your choices are guided by the ultimate prestige of the family. The elders (the heads of the family) make the choices for the younger ones. You would live at your parents' house till you are married to a person of opposite sex and once your parents retire, you and your spouse become heads of the family. Then its your turn. Even then you can't make decisions based on your preferences but based on what is "appropriate" to maintain and build the prestige of the family.
I am probably saying stuff people think they know. You really don't until you experience it. I've found my American friends find all the Indian movies (Bollywood) very amusing with all its over-the-top melodrama. Having lived in US for 5+ years, I find it over-the-top and am turned off by it most of the time. But when I do sit and watch an Indian movie, I'm sucked into it at some point. I've always wondered why. The reason is this: in India, people actually live like that. My parents are living proofs for this fact. Everything is turned into an emotional blackmail so that I uphold the prestige of the family and help my parents "win" in their social life. Yes, parents actually consider arranged marriages of their children as personal victories in upholding family prestige and "love" marriages of their children as personal failures. Oh, the fact that I'm gay doesn't even enter the picture! So, for all its unbelievability and over-the-top amateur production values, this movie is indeed believable, simply because I have heard this very dialog from my own mother about plunging a knife in her heart for something much less trivial than falling in love with a "phirangi" - a foreign (different skin-colored) woman. Is my mom a selfish controlling monster? She probably is, according to Western culture, because she wants me to marry a South Indian, Iyengar Brahmin girl of good heritage despite the fact that I am gay, and that she'd throw much worse tantrums than Nuru ever did in the movie. But then, I know my mom better. I know the kind of personal sacrifices she did for the sake of her family, sacrifices that would have been called foolish, stupid, and naiveté by Western culture. Now I won't marry a girl and "sacrifice" like her, but I do understand that in my mom is a manipulator and a victim. I completely understand why Alim went to Toronto after his mom than stay in London and go after Giles.
The movie touched me personally despite being flawed in many ways. Jimi Mistry's performance was horrible and Giles and Alim had almost no chemistry. The production values were amateurish. The biggest problem for me with the movie was that Alim's character was not fleshed out at all even in the screenplay level. Despite all that, the movie rang true in a number of levels for me and did not stereotype or reduce the issue of a gay man coming out in an Indian culture to a caricature. I applaud Ian Iqbal Rashid for that.
7 out of 10
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