Khol at Dallas South Asian Film Festival
Last weekend, Khol (Open) got its world premiere in Dallas, Texas to an amazing reception. I had the honor of my film being part of many poignant, diverse, South Asian films. Getting to meet other inspirational, brown talent like Priyanka Bose from Lion, Faraz Arif Ansari and Arshad Khan to name a few. Showcasing my short was definitely nerve wracking, but the film was met with a glowing review. Soon, I will announce the next festival we have gotten into (🙌🏾😱).
Glowing review (see below)
DFW SAFF 2018 Short Film Review “Khol”
By: One Film Fan
First, the Recap:
Alienation. Separation. When we make decisions that isolate us from those closest to our hearts, the ensuing fallout can be lasting, even to the point of causing irreparable damage to the relationships involved. Yet, if effort is made, can hope still be found amidst the ashes of a family broken by loss and shattered expectations? Vijay (Shawn Parikh) is a young man struggling with such a dilemma when it comes to his traditionalist Indian family and how they reacted to his coming out. Having spent ten years away to escape the pain and embittered emotions of being ostracized for his choice, Vijay has still found his own sense of peace with it even as he fully enjoys life.
However, when a sudden circumstance occurs that forces him to return the small town he once called home, it becomes a test of huge magnitude on multiple levels. On one side he faces his sister Vidya (Sarayu Blue), who honestly seems to have accepted his lifestyle and more so enjoys playfully chiding with him about the stereotypical facets associated with it. On the other end of the spectrum, there is his mother Ranjan (Anna Khaja), whose evident uncomfortable demeanor around Vijay becomes a point of contention even as they all strive to process a heartbreaking loss. However, when it would seem all will fall apart further, there’s an unanticipated glimpse of potential reconciliation in the midst of fond childhood remembrance.
Next, my Mind:
For director/editor Faroukh Virani, it was the world debut of his 12-minute LGBTQ-themed short film at DFW SAFF 2018, and it did not fail to please overall, offering up a candid, effectively honest portrayal of how the resolutions we cling to despite all odds and the ability to find healing out of deep hurt can reflect the beauty of connection, getting beyond differences, and seeing and treating each other as human beings. Now, I will say that when this narrative began, I wasn’t completely sure what we were in for, as the film’s very first moments were not at all my preference to witness via the level of physical intimacy being presented, albeit brief and integral to the story’s set-up.
Thankfully, the film leaves this aspect of things behind and trades it in for the vivid picture of emotional conflict and, I felt, overwhelming sense of betrayal felt by Vijay’s mother and sister upon his coming out years prior, the schism left in its wake being revisited over an awkward dinner table conversation, even as they all are actually needing to focus on the unfortunate situation that’s brought them back together to begin with. The volatility is tangible, the feelings raw, the pain and anger pronounced. But it’s watching all of this be wiped clean in a truly beautiful moment between mother and son during the film’s finale that makes the impact of the themes explored here so well orchestrated and moving.
Having also having had a hand in writing and producing the film as well, actor Shawn Parikh brings a level of intense, emotive, and realistic candor to his role as Vijay, a man who found his identity, but basically lost his family in doing so, having then been estranged from them for so long. Seeing as he comes back from his current life to try and be there for his mother and sister during a shared time of unanticipated grieving that affects them all, it unearths all the buried sentiments they have towards him and vice versa, which threatens to tear them apart conclusively. Yet, in a poignant instance of recollection to times as a boy where he experienced happiness in simple ways, it leads to a wonderful moment between Vijay and his mother that could very much indicate what further assuaging of hard feelings is coming, and Parikh navigates these myriad of emotions with ease and believability.
Equally well-established actress Blue likewise brings a grounded and more subtly intense performance to bear as Vidya, Vijay’s sister, who has at least appeared to have accepted Vijay’s lifestyle choice, even if it still might not be totally understood by her, given how she so flippantly jokes around with him about it. But, we can tells there’s still so much of her that wants the family to be unified again, especially during the present circumstances, and her frustrations at this level are made manifest here as well, solidly enacted throughout by Blue. Khaja plays the pair’s mother Ranjan, who certainly carries misgivings about what she most likely feels is and/or was the lack of respect for family and traditions as it applied to her son’s choice, and that tension remains strong. But, a mother’s love for her child is still one of the most powerful emotions out there, and it is ultimately made evident here as the film closes, wonderfully portrayed by Khaja.
Supporting turns arrive here from Sterling Jones, Alessandro Nori, & Jason Rogelas friends and/or lovers of Vijay’s, and Sidd Munjal as the younger Vijay in flashback, all playing their respective characters and moments well. So, in total, “Khol” is a further example of how independent cinema, no matter where in the world it heralds from, maintains such a magnificent record of reflecting the state of affairs on this road called life, hoping the bumps that come along ideally strengthen rather than upend, the curves causing us to press in rather than fall to the wayside, the direction it guides us will be towards realizing we’re all in need of better understanding when it comes to differences, handling it with grace instead of hatred, and that the door home is always–open.
As always, this is all for your consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!