Sudhanshu Saria’s film gives you insight to Indian gay love, emotion and cultural defiance
Sudhanshu Saria’s LOEV follows some of the formulas so often used in Indian films, however this is a film which has the audacity to know these rules then courageously break them.
There is a term that Indian film makers don’t necessarily like, that term is Bollywood; a fusion of the words Bombay (now Mumbai) and Hollywood.
The reason they don’t like it is because it marginalizes them, almost makes their film offerings seem less than those that come from the glittering West.
LOEV is not less-than, it challenges tradition and gives those who know Indian culture a new perspective and those who don’t a complex offering.
There is a very interesting thing that happened to me while watching LOEV. I realized the director had to film a gay romance between men amid the still homophobic country of India. In fact, Saria had to film the entire work in secrecy.
The paradox is compounded because Saria’s guerilla film making style shows exteriors and marketplace buzz as the two main characters kiss, hold hands and show other public displays of affection.
Keep in mind that homosexuality in India is punishable with a possible prison sentence. Not long ago, homosexuality was legal there, and one might wonder if that is the period in which this film is supposed to take place, but modern cars and other devices make it clear this is present time.
LOEV is an audacious film which peers through the fears of a society to reveal its nuance made entirely of the human spirit. One could say that the film doesn’t focus on the judgments of a massive society, but those same judgments as they lie in our personal connections.
We create our own limits especially when it comes to love.
If you are not familiar with Indian film making, you should know that even in “straight” Indian films there is not a lot of sexual, or physical intimacy. Something American films gorge themselves on, sometimes to excess.
These two gorgeous men should be half-dressed, making out and in the throes of passion most of the time.
But not here, and it can be frustrating given that we as American viewers were spoon fed skin, sex and sensuality as plot devices. LOEV focuses on love then libido not the other way around.
Jai (Shiv Pandit) is big shot New York business man with an expense account, luxury corporate perks and not enough time to find true love. So when he schedules a visit to Mumbai to visit his friend Sahil (Dhruv Ganesh), certain feelings rise to the surface and create unvetted sexual tension.
To make things more charged Sahil has booked a cottage in the beautiful mountain setting with backdrops of some splendorous landscapes and passion inducing vistas. Jai is so “Horny” that he can barely stand Sahils rejections. You see Sahil is in what seems to be a committed relationship back in the city with the aloof Alex (Siddharth Menon), the complete opposite of Jai. Jahil is not giving into Jai’s advances even though you get a sense that he’s torn about doing so.
The weekend becomes more challenging with each passing day until one night as the two return to the city for Jai’s company business meeting, aggression prevails.
In the end there is really nothing more that can be said between Jai and Sahil. And each reach their own conclusions that are the best for both of them.
Pandit seems to have taken on the bigger, more challenging role as Jai. His forceful flirtations are at once subtle, but soon uncontrollable. He gives his sexy character Jai the air of privilege, but weighs him down with an emotional burden not readily lifted by Sahil. His performance never falls short the emotional range needed for the part. He is committed wholly to the story.
Ganesh as Sahil plays perfectly against Pandit and his need for control. He's a spry naive imp full of energy and confusion, trying to stay true to his heart but often torn in all of the directions Jai is pulling him. Pandit and Ganesh create a perfect chemistry.
LOEV is really a simple story on the surface, a romance between two people who are torn between their desires and their convictions.
The film does not make a big spectacle of the country's attitudes toward the LGBT community, although there is always that feeling.
Instead, it focuses on the microcosm of how humans emotionally suppress themselves, not the society trying to do it for them. These men need no help.
LOEV doesn't pick apart these judgments as they relate to the bigger picture, instead the snapshot is much smaller, but the image is twice as powerful.
LOEV made its North American premiere at the SXSW Film Festival in March. It will also play in this year's Jeonju International Film Festival.
To learn more about this film, click HERE.