It’s a pity that films about alternate sexuality have to come wrapped in diverting and/or glamorized packaging. Hence, Deepa Mehta’s much-applauded Fire was not so much about lesbianism as about two neglected daughters-in-law in a crowded Delhi home finding comfort in each other’s arms. Even Ang Lee’s overrated Brokeback Mountain was set in the ‘Wild’ West where apparently rodeos and ranchers have their own moral codes.
Where is that one modern film on alternate sexuality set in a normal humdrum place we all can recognize and be comfortable in?
Shamim Sarif’s I Can’t Think Straight is set in the urban jungle. And the most amusing aspect of the rather-flimsy plot is that the characters’ genteel gestures of classiness are often shown to secrete desires and cravings that don’t tally with conventional definitions of decorum.
So what do we have here? An upperclass Muslim girl Leyla (Sheetal Seth, soft vulnerable and surprisingly in-sync with the character’s sketchily-written inner world) whose snobbish parents (Dalip Tahil, Antonia Frering) are preparing for her lavish wedding when Madam Meets Eve.
The bond that grows between Leyla and the mysterious enigmatic enchantress Tala (Lisa Ray) could have done with serious fleshing out…and we don’t mean only the external positioning of the cosmetic material.
The narration done in that breathy husky tone that women often adopt when trying to show they’re in control, leaves out room for any deeper development beyond the surface gloss.
The film looks fetching, thanks to Aseem Bajaj’s camerawork. The stately interiors of the homes and the jetsetters trying to look as if their suits are ironed while they are wearing them, give out the feeling of a film rich in texture. But alas, the content remains de-vitaminized, sapped of any life-giving energy.
Leyla’s progression from self-denial to self-realization is surprisingly devoid of pronounced punctuation marks. She lives in a world of SMS abbreviations rather than poetry. It’s all done in one breathless take, in a manner of speaking.
Disappointing beyond the surface and empty at the core I Can’t Think Straight makes you wonder what the director was thinking. Straight or otherwise.
The film’s release-timing is rather unfortunate. People would want to see Lisa Ray for all the wrong reasons.
But we can’t feel kindly towards such an anaemic because Lisa is ill.