Touch of Pink
July 28, 2005
With the phenomenal success of My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002), studios are looking for a low-budget, independent film that will have the same cross-over appeal. On the surface, Touch of Pink (2004) seems to be drawn from the same cloth. It features a protagonist who is the black sheep of their traditional family. The mother is a dominant presence who wants their child to meet a nice person, get married and have babies. However, while Greek Wedding was basically a sitcom stretched out to a feature length movie, Touch of Pink evokes classic Hollywood romantic comedies.
Alim (Mistry) has his own guardian angel and spiritual guide in the form of the ghost of Cary Grant (a spot-on MacLachlan). Alim lives in London, England with his boyfriend Giles (Holden-Reid) whose family knows that he is gay and accepts him for who he is. Alim’s family lives in Toronto, Canada and is very traditionally Indian. They are also unaware that he’s gay. His mom (Mathew) still wants him to get married to a nice Indian girl. She misses him terribly and decides to visit him in London. He is faced with a dilemma: keep who he truly is from his mother forever or confront her with the truth.
Touch of Pink trots out a familiar comedic conceit: the clash of cultures with the traditional straight world colliding with gay society. Alim hides all evidence that he’s gay from his mother with additional advice from Grant, who obviously represents Alim’s subconscious and his doubts.
Jimi Mistry does a fine job as Alim, the straight man (no pun intended) in this rather predictable but pleasant comedy. He plays his character as somewhat repressed, unable to be comfortable around his mother about who he really is. She pushes traditional values on him until he can’t take it anymore and the conflict of their values comes to an inevitable confrontation.
However, it is Kyle MacLachlan who steals every scene he’s in. He has Cary Grant’s unique cadence down cold and plays him as if he just walked off the set of Charade (1963). The film really comes to life whenever he’s on-screen. His presence evokes a world of cocktails and lounge music. It’s a shame that the rest of the film didn’t have the same kind of energy.
At first, Suleka Mathew plays Alim’s mom as a strict, domineering force in his life. She disapproves of his life in London and adheres to the credo, “Nothing is more important than family.” But after she spends a day with Giles, the ice begins to melt and Mathews shows her character’s warm side. She has dreams just like anyone else and regrets of a path not taken; a life not lived.
There is an audio commentary by the writer/director Ian Iqbal Rashid and actors Jimi Mistry and Kyle MacLachlan. Rashid points out that his film frequently references the Cary Grant film, Touch of Mink (1962), amongst many others. They talk about working in and around Toronto and the movie-making process in general. This is a relaxed, casual track that reflects the same vibe created by the movie.
Also included is a “The Making of Touch of Pink” featurette. Rashid wanted to make a romantic comedy in the same vein as some of Grant’s movies but with contemporary characters he could relate to. Mistry and MacLachlan talk in detail about their characters with the rest of the main cast chiming in as well.
Touch of Pink raises some interesting issues of self-loathing, love and relationships vs. casual sex and finding that special someone that you want to spend your life with. Ultimately, what drives this movie is the relationship between Alim and his mother. She only wants him to be happy and he wants her to be proud of him and respect the life he leads. It’s a universal message applicable to anyone.