During the recent years, there has been an increase on the Asian films that deal with the LGBT community, with productions like “Wolf and Wolbachia“, “Small Talk” and a number of others. Montreal-based Eisha Marjara makes her own effort on the subject, through a rather cheerful approach.

Venus” runs as part of the 9th edition of the Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival, that runs at 15 cinemas, across London, Birmingham and Manchester, from 21st June to 1st July, with 27 films, including features and short films, in competition. It is the largest South Asian film festival in Europe. Buy your tickets via this website, at respective cinema box offices: http://londonindianfilmfestival.co.uk/

Sid is a Montreal Punjabi, who, after years of struggling with his gender identity, has decided to come out as a woman, to the shock of his traditional Punjabi mother, who cannot fathom the fact, in contrary to his father, who is rather sympathetic. The procedure to change sex begins normally, with the sole exception of his mother’s constant crying, but things turn completely upside down, when Ralph, until a 14-year-old boy, turns up and insists that Sid is his long lost dad from a teenage affair. Sid now finds himself with a teenager who seems to idolize him and even prefer him from his current family, but also having to face his boyfriend, who refuses to acknowledge their relationship publicly, and the deteriorating attitude of his mother.

Eisha Marjara directs film that implements a happy-go-lucky atmosphere, almost from beginning to end, in a rather light approach on her subject. This approach has both cons and pron. The most significant negative is that the dramatic scenes, most of which depict a confrontation between Sid and another of the protagonists, are not as impactful as they could be, since they lack intensity. The positive though, is that her messages regarding the struggles the members of the LGBT community have to face, particularly with their families and in their romantic relationships, are quite well communicated. Furthermore, the general cheerfulness proves very beneficial regarding the entertainment the film offers, which ends up as quite an enjoyable experience.

This approach benefits the most by Mark Ellam’s cinematography, who fills his frames with vivid colors and polished images, Mathieu Bouchard-Malo’s editing, who retains a relatively fast pace throughout the film, and Patrice Dubuc and Gaetan Gravel music, which suits the various scenes quite nicely. The combination of the editing and music allows the film to function as a music video, occasionally, which also helps the entertainment element.

Debargo Sanyal as Sid is the undisputed star of the film, as he highlights a multilayered character, who struggles to cope with all the changes his life is bringing, all the while retaining his dignity and, quite frequently, his coolness. The scenes where he acts as a true diva and the gradual warming up to the boy are the highlights of his performance. Jamie Mayes is quite convincing as the teenager who wants something better for himself, while Zena Darawall as Sid’s mother gives a wonderful performance, as she tries to conciliate her principles with her love for her son. The scene where she lashes out is one of the most memorable in the film.

“Venus” is an easy-to-watch movie that manages to get the message across through a very light and entertaining approach.

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