Mango Sufflé

3 stars out of five
by S. James Wegg
Publish Date: May 22, 2003
Reviewed at the 2003 Inside Out Lesbian and Gay International Film Festival
The dangers of brotherly love

Mango Sufflé is a tasty summer treat that’s plot-lite, creamy in the centre, and served up in a magnificent country spread.

Adapted for the screen from his own play (A Muggy Night in Mumbai), director/writer Mahesh Dattani has crafted a production that tackles the universal themes of self-serving emotional greed and sexuality denial. Everyone gets a chance to hide their truth then seek 11th hour redemption.

Kamalesh (newcomer Ankur Vikal whose neon smile and picturesque chest captivate attention no matter how stilted his lines sound) spends the film rescuing others. First his sister Kiran (Rinkie Khanna, seeming more sedate than sexy), to whom he gives an upscale fashion and style remake after her failure to be chosen in India’s arranged marriage sweepstakes, then Ed (Atul Kulkarni) who, having just been fired and fortified with two “stiff ones,” has decided to end it all if he can’t find someone to listen to him at the local gay bar.

Kamalesh does much more than listen and soon the pair fall in lust and perhaps love. Their romance is beautifully captured by Sunny Joseph’s excellent camera work in a dance scene (with silent approval of the mannequins, nice touch) and an underwater pool sequence where the naked couple swim and dive with abandon. One can only hope that the “too-risqué-for-this-rating” outtakes will be included on the DVD.

Unfortunately for the lovers, Ed’s recovery includes his senses so he dumps his man (“I’m not gay,” “This just isn’t working out.”) abruptly. His clichéd pronouncement comes simultaneously with a new love interest: Kiran, bringing new meaning to the term “friend of the family.”

The distraught and confused designer retreats to his parents’ “farm” (a sumptuous estate with a next door wedding to rub in failed gay relationships, and with a watchman—Mamood Farooqui—who seems intent on planting his own seed wherever possible).

There’s nothing for it but to invite his closest friends (Heebah Shah as Deepali the resident fag hag; Denzil Smith as European poofter Ranjit), a closeted soap star (played with flair and honesty by Sanjit Bedi as Bunny) and (as the story gets closer and closer to a Mozart opera comedy of manners) the pre-Ed partner, Sharad (Faredoon Dodo Bhujwala). Naturally, Kiran and Ed make an unexpected entrance. Soon everyone is pushing Kamalesh to tell all, even if it means breaking his “silence” promise to Ed, and Kiran’s heart.

The ensemble bits work well but need more snap and crackle to keep the pace going consistently forward. Following Ed’s picture-perfect “outing” (proving conclusively that one photo is worth a thousand lies), Sharad’s dissertation on what it takes to be a real man (“Penis Power! If you can do it fives times, then I can do it six!”) becomes the film’s comedic highlight.

By the last scene, with multiple truths having spilled out all over the screen, we’re left with relationships rekindled or extinguished and the next door wedding party wondering just what all the fuss was about. JWR

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Director/Screenwriter - Mahesh Dattani
Producer - Sanjeev Shah
Music - Amit Heri
Cinematographer - Sunny Joseph
Production Designer - Seema Shah
Further information, future screening/performance/exhibition dates,
purchase information, production sponsors:
Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film and Video Festival
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