My Brother...Nikhil (2004)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Family Drama, Gay & Lesbian Films  |   Run Time - 120 min.  |   Countries - India  |  
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My Brother...Nikhil isn't the first Hindi film to deal with AIDS, but unlike, say, Phir Milenge, which was essentially a Bollywood remake of Philadelphia with a heterosexual woman in the Tom Hanks role, My Brother...Nikhil is about a closeted gay man who contracts HIV, shattering his seemingly perfect life. Nikhil (Sanjay Suri, who also produced the film) is a champion swimmer and local hero in Goa in the early '90s, where the film takes place. He has a loving relationship with his fiercely independent sister, Anamika (Juhi Chawla), and his doting mother (Lillete Dubey of Monsoon Wedding and Vanity Fair). His connection to his hard-driving father (Victor Banerjee) is more problematic. His father pushes Nikhil too hard at his swimming, becoming angry when the young man loses a race, and he also disapproves of Nikhil's friends, among whom is Nigel (Purab Kohli). When Nikhil is told that he has HIV, news spreads quickly throughout the region. His teammates on the swim team and most of his friends abandon him. His parents are publicly humiliated, and even they spurn him. Only Anamika, her husband, Sam (Gautam Kapoor), and Nigel stand by him. He needs all their help when he's arrested (contracting HIV or being openly gay were essentially criminal acts in India at the time) and held prisoner in an abandoned sanitarium. Those closest to Nikhil band together, hire a lawyer, and fight for his release. The story is told by Nikhil's loved ones, who address the camera directly, in the style of a documentary. The film is based on a true story. My Brother...Nikhil, written, directed, and edited by Onir, features music by Viveck Philip and lyrics by Amitabh Varma. It was shown at the 2005 New York Asian Film Festival, presented by Subway Cinema.

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