“Dad, I am gay.”
What if your son came and told you that one day? How would you react? Would you be able to look beyond your own ego into your child’s troubled world and embrace it, and him?
First-time director Rikhil Bahadur weaves together a tale in a spick-and-span upperclass household where homosexuality has no place. In fact when it shows up like an intruder the parents choose to call it a ‘phase’
Mihir (Pranay Pachauri, making a remarkable debut) troubled in his inability to be “normal” finds himself blurting out the truth about his sexual orientation at the dinner table.
(All major family confessions in our film are made while eating, unless you are Zoya Akhtar.)
All hell breaks loose. ‘Liberal’ Dad (Amitabh Sharma, amiable) gets antsy in his fancy pants. And Mom (played by Amitabh Sharma’s real-life wife Tammy) who so far showed no signs owning up to a life outside her laptop, suddenly takes charge.
Amazing, what powers of resilience are discovered in the creases of the domestic set-up during crisis.
But Timeout is not about gay Mihir’s Mom and Dad. It’s about Mihir’s little brother Gaurav (Chirag Malhotra) who is bewildered, angry, confused, anguished and tormented when he catches his brother whom he hero-worships, in bed with a guy.
Gaurav’s inner turmoil is captured in the narrative in stifling detail. We almost experience the boy’s near melt-down as he realizes that the brother whom he looked up to and whom guys turned to for dating advice was actually, ahem, into men.
This is a good a time as any to let you know that the the film’s music is one of its mainstays. The songs prod the sensitive and alert narrative with voices that serve as shadow dancers in a world populated by people whom we know, thanks to the actors who make the director’s job look far easier than it actually is.
Pranay Pachauri as the closeted heroic Bade Bhaiyya expresses his character’s tormented inner world in little gestures. He reminded me of Sanjay Suri in Onir’s My Brother Nikhil. Pachauri is a find, as is the curly-haired Chirag Malhotra who plays the younger brother. A large part of the film’s considerable impact depends on young Malhotra. He is a fine little actor with a keen sense of moral projection for his age, as are all the youngsters who populate this believable and connectible film.
I specially liked Aditya Jain who plays Gaurav’s best friend. When Gaurav recoils in dismay and terror from his buddy’s heterosexual touch, or when the girl who thought she was Mihir’s sweetheart playfully asks him who’s the girl in his gay partnership…one feels the full measure of the director’s non-judgemental empathy for his characters.
Timeout is one of the most important films in recent times. It addresses the issue of homosexuality with straightforwardness sensitivity and warmth. These are real people grappling with real problems, not caricatures preening in a glasscase. This is not just a film. It’s a testimony to how much our cinema has matured.
Don’t miss it.