Review: A Lesbian Romantic Comedy, Sort of, by Way of Bollywood

Sahil wastes no time being dissatisfied. Instead, he will get his large thought: to rework a style present (Sweety’s dad owns a textile manufacturing facility) right into a musical comedy that preaches tolerance about same-sex love. The stars are none apart from Sweety and her girlfriend, Kuhu (Regina Cassandra), who as much as this late level within the film has been seen solely briefly in flashbacks.

So, if Sweety’s love dares to talk its title — largely to fret about its acceptance — her love story has to whisper across the edges of this film. “Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga,” directed by Shelly Chopra Dhar, isn’t actually a romantic comedy within the Bollywood sense — courting, squabbling, wedding ceremony. (Though there’s a very on-brand tune montage with Sweety and Kuhu hugging amongst ruins.) Instead, like Sahil’s musical, “Ek Ladki” has to provide classes, tackling subjects like disgrace, neighborhood acceptance and anxieties about gayness as sickness.

Indian films, particularly indie ones, have handled homosexual themes earlier than. (Not at all times fortunately: Fundamentalists burned theaters that have been displaying Deepa Mehta’s lesbian movie “Fire” in 1996.) The first mainstream Bollywood film to have homosexual predominant characters, “Dostana” (2008), was a cheat — the 2 males, performed by large stars, have been solely pretending to be homosexual.

In that sense, “Ek Ladki,” the primary to place lesbians middle stage, is an enchancment. No pretending right here, even when Kuhu is barely a personality and romance solely a tiny portion of this film. (The movie’s title could prime audiences for love, although. It’s additionally the title of a dreamy hit tune from “1942: A Love Story,” a film that starred … Mr. Kapoor.)

Sahil’s large present ends with a lot of the viewers strolling out in disgust. It works, although, for one vital individual: Sweety’s father, who had rejected her throughout rehearsals, when he discovered that she and Kuhu weren’t simply playacting. But he comes round in time to interrupt the efficiency, delivering the message of love and tolerance that’s this film’s motive to be.

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