Review: Queer Parivaar

Written and directed by lead actor Shiva Raichandani, co-written by Amani Saeed, when a mysterious gate crasher appears at their wedding, Madhav and Sufi are forced to face past secrets and reflect on what makes a family. Also starring: Taru Devani, Raimu Itfum, Asifa Lahore, Anick and Aroob Sajjad.

With so many films in queer cinema exploring the rejection characters experience from their family, it’s a fantastic and much needed concept to explore the idea of a queer background to their family, hidden or otherwise. Matching that concept with a highly theatrical, energetic style, heavily influenced by Bollywood and you have a great recipe. There’s an infectious amount of colour to its visual, it’s bathed in positivity, celebration and love. Queer Parivaar is half emotional revelation and half party.

Although it has one key issue which hinders all of that from getting where it wants to go, the editing and tone feel overly commercial. The way that it moves is too familiar of styles used in advertising and more structured projects, it can’t quite translate its bubbly, loving attitude into the tone and angles at work. It’s a shame to see as it’s still very sweet and such a worthy topic, especially when being told through the perspective of the South Asian community, who aren’t typically often highlighted in the media when exploring queer themes.

The pacing to the writing and the delivery of the dialogue can also feel stiff at times, with that huge dose of theatricality thrown in, it makes it harder to pack a punch to the sincerity and ultimately, it doesn’t quite get through. However, all of that does fit within viewing it through a lens of musicals and Bollywood, but the emotion of this story had big potential and without a more natural feeling, it can’t make as much of an impact as it could have.

Regardless, it is a strong cast, they all feel passionate about this story, and give off a loving and hopeful energy. The interaction between Dadi (Devani) and Madhav (Raichandani) is heart-warming, and embraces the need to explore queer history, both in the larger context and within your own family. Raimu Itfum and Shiva Raichandani make for a beautiful couple and one that would be much suited to their own series, exploring their lively mix of friends and how society treats them, both the good and the bad.

Queer Parivaar has a wonderful concept and a dazzling energy but unfortunately comes across too tightly constructed. Embracing that theatricality and performance edge so strongly restricts the film from hitting a larger sincerity. Despite that, its story is sweet and has great themes to explore. It’s a well-put together cast with big personality, they all work together very well, but there’s a few moments where the performances are slightly stiff or too formulated. If you’re a musical fanatic, this will work even better for you, it’s utterly compassionate and energetic but simply misses out on a bigger emotional impact.

Verdict: ✯✯✯ | 6/10

Reviewed as part of BFI Flare 2022 – Click here for more information & screenings

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