`Rahim' by Murni Mastan

This is the 5th time I have seen Rahim. The first time was in the editing room. It is an amazing first film for Murni. No wonder she took longer than us all to complete. Rahim is a heartfelt personal piece. More precisely, an ode to her late uncle. The script is a work of poetry and the choice of shots more biographical and than narrative or anecdotal.

The film is largely an interplay of memories and inner voices. While we are led into the world of Rahim through his intimate narration, it is later juxtaposed against that of his niece, played by a exquisitely beautiful talent. So things get more interesting with this duologue because it marks a shift in the world the director is trying to position our minds in. So one hand, we have one foot in a forgotten world and the other foot in a present world coming to terms with and learning something from the past. While its visuals are varied (sometimes in production value), I particularly remembered the final scene. Framed by a grey band of gathering clouds and a lush green cemeterial grass patch, Rahim's aged father strolls into the distance. The scene, wrapped in greenish hues of a rather spiritual quality, stokes the sentimental in me.

While it is enlightening and moving as a film, it tends to portray a very skewed view of a sub-culture. Not just homosexuals but cross-dressers as well. The image of cross-dressing, feather boa toting `Boom Boom Room' type divas has occasionally been used to portray gays in 80s TV or press. Knowing that the face of gay culture has shifted, watching Rahim was a bit like a anachronistic replay. But knowing Mo, all is unintentional and only an attempt to paint a picture of a tortured yet colourful life set in a recent past.

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