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Soongava: Dance of the Orchids

Subarna Thapa's film benefits from nice dance sequences and exotically unfamiliar locales, but is otherwise a rather by-the-numbers coming-out narrative and, sadly, includes what feels like a prerequisite tragic ending.

Cast:
With: Deeya Maskey, Nisha Adhikari, Saugat Malla, Bashundara Bhushal, Nirmal Nisar, Rajendra Man Shakya, Laxmi Giri, Sunita Thakura, Bharat Maharjan, Naswa Joshi, Subarna Thapa. (Nepali, Nepal Basha, English dialogue)

An aspiring dancer falls in love with her best femme friend in the deadly solemn “Soongava: Dance of the Orchids,” reportedly the first Nepali feature to deal with same-sex relationships (though the Himalayan nation has implemented some of Asia’s most gay-friendly legislation since 2007). Male scribe-helmer Subarna Thapa’s film benefits from nice dance sequences and exotically unfamiliar locales, but is otherwise a rather by-the-numbers coming-out narrative and, sadly, includes what feels like a prerequisite tragic ending. Queer events will nonetheless want a look.

Gorgeous Diya (Deeya Maskey) comes from a well-off family that informs her of arranged-marriage plans just as she’s taken her relationship with her BFF, working-class teacher Kiran (Nisha Adhikari), to the next level. After a lot of tortured back-and-forth and numerous soapy twists, the lovers move in together in Kathmandu, though their ordeal is far from over. Unfortunately, the well-intentioned pic’s highly melodramatic (if tonally very serious) plotting and focus on a conservative, family-oriented society won’t do much to convince local queer youths that it does get better. Acting and tech credits are passable.

Soongava: Dance of the Orchids

Nepal-France

Production: A Rapsodie Prod., Ami Films, Cite Films production. Produced by Virginie Lacombe, Raphael Berdugo, Subarna Thapa. Directed, written by Subarna Thapa.

Crew: Camera (color, DV), Sara Cornu; editor, Sylvie Gadmer; music, Sylvain Morizet; sound (Dolby Digital) Bruno Tarriere. Reviewed at Palm Springs Film Festival (World Cinema Now), Jan. 10, 2013. (Also in 2012 Montreal World Film Festival.) Running time: 84 MIN.

With: With: Deeya Maskey, Nisha Adhikari, Saugat Malla, Bashundara Bhushal, Nirmal Nisar, Rajendra Man Shakya, Laxmi Giri, Sunita Thakura, Bharat Maharjan, Naswa Joshi, Subarna Thapa. (Nepali, Nepal Basha, English dialogue)

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