Section 377 has had a complex relationship with the people of India. Criminalised, decriminalised, recriminalised and then decriminalised again in the landmark judgement of 2018 with regard to consensual same-sex relationships. ZEE5’s latest offering, the Faruk Kabir directorial 377 Ab Normal, brings to light the journey of the petitioners who helped in legalising homosexual relationships. And it does a credible job.
It is a sensitive subject and a large section of people still cannot wrap their heads around the idea that people of same sex can be attracted to each other the same way a heterosexual man and woman can. After all, love is love. But for years, the voice of the LGBTQ community was silenced (and is still regarded with skepticism) just because their sexual orientation is different from the majority.
The script and the characters are well-defined, but 377 Ab Normal is not so much about the individuals as much as it is about the story. This makes sense since here the cause is bigger than the people fighting for it. The movies follows a non-linear format and briefly delves into the lives of the petitioners (Zeeshan Ayyub, Maanvi Gagroo, Tanvi Azmi, Sid Makkar).
Zeeshan and Shashank Arora stand out in the crowd with their impactful performances. While Zeeshan plays Arif — the man who runs the NGO trust called Bharosa that helps in spreading awareness about AIDS, Shashank Arora essays the character of Pallav, a young man who comes to terms with his sexuality after suffering a heartbreak and fighting with his family.
Shashank’s angst and his transformation from a scared adolescent to a courageous man is dealt with by gentle but firm hands of the filmmaker. And Shashank being the talented actor he is, makes his presence felt by playing his role in a rooted fashion.
However, the same cannot be said about Sid Makkar, who plays a gay, successful businessman. Even in the little moments he crowds the frame, his portrayal seems inauthentic and over-the-top, to the extent that you can easily see him ‘acting,’ which definitely doesn’t work in his favour.
Overall, a film that works better than one thought it would, minus a couple of glitches.