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 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