Reviews TV + Movies

Sunday: A Queer Short Film On Closeted Desire

Opening with a dark frame and a softened track, Sunday, a short film written and created by Arun Fulara, immediately establishes its central theme. Kamble (played brilliantly by Shrikant Yadav), a middle-aged man, can be seen applying lotion to his face, presumably to feel more presentable in the eyes of his barber and crush, Jaan (Prakash Joshi), to whom he plans to pay a visit. The movie revolves around Kamble’s anticipation for his meeting with Jaan- which the viewer witnesses as Jaantrims Kamble’s beard and massages his face, with every moment slowed down and emphasized. While watching Jaan massage Kamble’s face, one is taken back to the opening scene, where a voice is heard serenading the one they are devoted to to “forever remain in front of my eyes”.

Seemingly insignificant interactions in the short film speak volumes about the queer experience, specifically Kamble’s, with each one wittily adding depth to the viewer’s understanding of this overarching theme. Kamble is welcomed to the barber shop with a private conversation between the young, fellow customer seated next to him and his beloved on the phone. The callous nature with which he is publicly conversing about their intimate relationship contrasts with Kamble’s compulsion to hide his own romantic desires. He is surrounded by displays of apparent heteronormativity, be it the father-son duo playing video games on the shop’s rustic sofa, or his own wife and daughter waiting for him at home.

The film leaves a bittersweet taste in the mouth, perhaps more bitter than sweet. The moments when Kamble’s face is being massaged feel incredibly voyeuristic to watch— almost like peeking into a closeted queer’s subconscious without permission. Though there are no intimacies shared between Kamble and Jaan, the tension in the scene is palpable. LGBTQIA+ viewers may find themselves relating to Kamble’s wishful thinking, as well as the lonely feeling that a world where one’s love is requited could only be imaginary.

The cinematography and lighting deserve praise of their own, especially for the shots of the hustle and bustle in the barber’s shop, as well as for the closing scene. The scenes where Kamble is found alone can be said to depict a formalist kind of filmmaking approach. What Kamble perceives as unimportant, or has distaste for, is intelligently blurred and pushed into the background, while Jaan remains at the forefront of the camera – just like Kamble’s face as he walks away from the barber shop, clear and in focus. This is Fulara’s debut short film and is available to watch at MovieSaints. His upcoming short film, My Mother’s Girlfriend, a story of a romantic relationship colliding with a parental one, is set to release later this year. You can support the film here.

This story was about: Homosexuality Regional language Sexuality

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Srishti Uppal is a nineteen-year-old poet and essayist from New Delhi. Their favourite writers include Alok V. Menon, Richard Silken, and Mary Oliver. Their work can be found in Marias at Sampaguitas, Human/Kind Journal, The Temz Review, among others.
Srishti Uppal

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