Awards aplenty for ‘Dear Bhargava’

Ramnath Shanbhag’s short film in Kannada sensitively deals with a young boy’s struggle to come out

Ramnath Shanbhag’s Kannada film, Dear Bhargava, won The Best LGBTQ Short at the Zero Degree Film Contest in May 2021 and was screened at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Film Festival where it won the Special Jury Award. The film also won the Outstanding Achievement Award at the Tagore International Film Festival.

“There aren’t many Kannada films dealing with gay rights,” says 30-year-old Ramnath Shanbhag, whose Dear Bhargava marks his directorial debut. The film deals with a young boy’s struggle to come out. Ramnath has given dialogues for the 16-minute short film by Flickering Studios, which was recently released on YouTube.

Poster of ‘Dear Bhargava’, which won The Best LGBTQ Short at the Zero Degree Film Contest  

After completing his B.Com at Seshadripuarm College in 2012, Ramnath pursued his passion for writing with dialogues and lyrics for Kannada films. “I write poetry, radio shows and jingles,” says Ramnath, who works as a senior associate with Amazon in Bengaluru.

The minimalist film is set in a house and has three characters — the parents and their son, Bhargava. Ten days after his father’s death, Bhargava tells his online mental health service he doesn’t feel any emotion. Distressed, anxious and uneasy, he tells his boyfriend on the phone that he will get back when he feels better. Meanwhile, his mental health advisor tells him, journeys in life have to start with a first step, which he needs to take.

Ramnath Shanbhag, made his directorial début with ‘Dear Bhargava’ 

Bhargava’s mother is flooded with memories of her husband and those shared by friends. She is surprised Bhargava does not have any memories of his father to share. When sorting through his father’s belongings, Bhargava finds a letter addressed to him from his father. His father’s exhortations, “Helko Bhargava, helko” (express it Bhargava) makes Bhargava realise his father understood his dilemma and was trying to make things easier for him.

The film ends with a weeping Bhargava approaching his mother saying, “I should have told this to dad, but now, amma, I need to share something with you.”

Talking of the casting, Ramnath says, “Mahesh Bung, who acted as Bhargava has acted in many films, the latest being Arvind Kamat’s thriller, Arishadvarga. I was happy to get seasoned actors, Sunder Veena and Aruna Balaraj to play Bhargava’s parents.”

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