A Touch of Pink
Directed by Ian Iqbal Rashid
“It’s the oldest story in the world. Boy meets boy. Boy leaves boy, goes home to Toronto, but gets boy back and lives happily ever after in London.”
Thusly, Cary Grant, alive and well in 2004, reassures his protégé Alim, an Indian
Muslim who is unsure of his future with his English boyfriend. Considering this odd
conglomerate of personas and events it is surprising to find out that A Touch of Pink is a
simple love story, but not one you’re likely to have been told in quite this way before. It is the basic risks the film takes in pulling its fringe characters into a mainstream love story structure that places it apart while allowing it to come up aces at your local cinema.
Gay and lesbian cinema is hardly an undercurrent in the media stream these days -
this film screened in over five major festivals this year, including Sundance - but the question still remains: How does the common story work alongside the less common element or, that is to say, when does the common story belong to us all? Take any basic love story that has captured the imagination of the average filmgoer. Now add interracial love to the mix, clashing religious values and generation gap-fueled misunderstandings. Such love stories abound. By simply changing the love from hetero to homosexual, this added layer makes for an even more unique love story.
A Touch of Pink does all these things. Many filmmakers would be pleased
to simply retell an accepted love story with homosexual characters. Indeed, there is a
theoretical validity to such ventures in recapturing stories previously disenfranchised, but
Rashid doesn’t settle for this. What he has done is made an original, engaging film of a common story that could stand on its two legs on any street corner despite its sundry uncommon elements. This is what elevates A Touch of Pink above popcorn fare to a socially engaging and thought-provoking film.
There is an inherent simplicity to Rashid’s story line that many have passed off as
simply generic, a hasty judgment. Giles is blissfully in love with his Indian boyfriend, Alim, who is quiet about his Indian roots and his family ties back in Toronto. Their relationship has reached a stage of stability and they are happy living together. Unbeknownst to Giles, Alim regularly “talks” with Cary Grant (wonderfully portrayed by Kyle MacLachlan) a movie persona with whom he has strong, childhood connections we learn much more about later in the film. His conversations with Cary belie unaddressed issues and chinks in Alim’s armor. When Alim’s mother decides that it is high time he came through for her by marrying a good Indian girl as her nephew does for her sister back in Toronto, she is compelled to come visit Alim to determine the reason for the delay.
Predictable events ensue, but Rashid deftly handles the mother’s own past
and issues alongside the wonderful Cary Grant banter while Giles is pulled in directions of his own. Crisp editing moves the film along, supported by a well-chosen soundtrack and strong performances. Although Jimi Mistry’s portrayal of Alim is inconsistent, he plays well opposite his mother (Suleka Mathew) and holds his own with MacLachlan’s Grant, the gem performance of the film. The cinematography doesn’t do much to expound on the rich cultural setting of the movie, but it is supported with strong transitional visuals and some fine parallel editing between the two settings. This is a rare example of a film that takes some fairly heavy social issues and agendas and reduces them to a lighter fare that has you thinking what is all the fuss about. Check it out.