Saturday, February 21

Milk

The Oscars night is almost here, Obama is the new President and a lot is being written about the Pink Chaddi campaign. Three unrelated events that remind me of Milk, one of my favorites for the Oscars this year along with Frost/Nixon.

Reading this piece brought back the conversation I had with my husband as we left Milk. Both of us wondered about the gay situation in India. About how we were clueless of any discussion of the issue beyond the frivolous depictions in Karan Johar movies. How many of them were forced into an arranged marriage? Who has it easier in India, a gay man or a woman? The protests against Fire, and the subtle depiction of lesbians in Jabbar Patel's Umbaratha. Did we know of any LGBT groups in college? Did we know at least one gay Indian personally?

Coming back to the movie, I think Milk is a beautifully made film. It portrays the gay rights movement in the United States through the life of Harvey Milk. It is neither provocative, nor preachy. It is more like a dramatized history lesson that gives you what happened in those last eight years of Harvey Milk's life. But all along the amazing performances not just by Sean Penn and Josh Brolin, but the entire cast, touch your heart and convey the truth that gays are humans. There are no stereotypical characters or oversimplified generalizations about the gay community. Milk's message that if all gays come out of the closet everyone will know at least one gay and realise that gays are normal humans, and deserve basic human rights is both commonsensical and profound.

And Sean Penn. He is simply brilliant. It was difficult to imagine that we were watching the same man from Mystic River we loved the night before. He brings Milk to life through almost impeccable mannerisms and voice. It is an Oscar worthy performance, just like Frank Langella's Nixon is.

But amidst all this the real message is Hope. As I watched Milk give the hope speech in the trailers, I couldn't help but think of Obama. And during the film too. There was a certain familiarity. Even though both men appear different, in different settings and with different issues they speak the language of hope, of optimism. After experiencing the election and the movie the similarity was even more striking. And it made them "normal."


2 comments:

Ashutosh said...

Milk and Sean Penn are both great. But Penn is going to have a very tough time beating Mickey Rourke's performance in "The Wrestler". But I definitely liked both Frost/Nixon and Milk a lot.

Manasi said...

Ashutosh: Chetan said the same think last night, but Penn deservedly won. After watching the movie I went back and watched the real Harvey Milk and I think he did an exceptional job. Infact in my ignorance I checked if he was gay. It also probably made political sense to give him the award.