“Whatever happens outside, the ‘sanctity’ of a heteronormative family is always preserved in our prejudiced patriarchal society.” I assume that it is due to this very reason that Mainstream Hindi Cinema does not focus on making the Silver screen a mode to break stereotyping, caricatures and myths about LGBTQ community. However, Art films must receive a deservedly standing ovation for shattering the glass ceiling of representation and depicting the sad and often ludicrous reality of the LGBTQ community in their plotlines.
My takeaway from the film Kapoor and Sons when I first watched it was what a dysfunctional family. There was nothing abnormal or special in Fawad Khan’s character. That is what I love about this film that his relationship was not shown under a different light; it was just a part of his daily life. Nobody was perfect in the family and everybody has their problems, Rahul’s secret was that he was a closeted gay. There were no tags no special mention towards his sexuality. No jokes were made. Yes it was difficult for his mother to digest the fact but that was shown perfectly I would say because all we ever wanted was real life depiction of issues of LGBTQ community. And non-acceptance of family is one of the major issues and that was clearly shown in the movie, however brief it was.
The movie, Loev, was a beautiful depiction of human emotions like jealousy and insecurity. It doesn’t matter that whether a person is a girl/boy/straight/lesbian/gay/transgender or anything else, love, insecurity, envy do not bias on the basis of sexual orientation. This film, in my opinion, breaks the general myths surrounding the community. Not that there is something wrong with effeminate males, but it is apparently believed that gay men have “feminine characteristics”. Neither of the protagonists was feminine nor were they dramatic while talking. The movie has brought out this message that gay men can dress like any other person and the directors or producers don’t have to portray a gay character by their dressing style or their way of talking. Another huge myth broken by this story was that men/transgender people cannot be raped. It is high time we accepted that sexual harassment is not a gendered crime.
Gay men are perpetually pressured into marrying a woman of their parents’ choice- an ancient arrange marriage system of India. This has been beautifully and painfully shown in the movies- Fashion as well as Bombay Talkies. Samir Soni’s character Rahul (Fashion) was gay and his mother knew or doubted that he has a boyfriend. Yet she continuously asked him to marry a nice Punjabi girl throughout the movie. His mother’s friends taunted him once for being gay and his mother was ashamed. Bombay Talkies was story that created awareness about how homosexual men are forced to get married to a woman and it does not lead to a healthy relationship rather it just ruins all the lives. It was Bollywood’s attempt at bringing out the real life issues of homosexual men. How they are in a constant war with their families because of their sexual preferences. I hope parents who watched these films might understand that being gay is not a phase and it never ‘goes away’. Not even if they ground their children, stop their sons meeting other men or have them marry a woman.
Another story of a gay man, who was exploited by a police officer at night, in the city of Mumbai for engaging in sexual acts with another man in his car – I am was released in 2011 when Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was criminalized in India. Yet another horrifying encounter of how gay men are beaten up, cat called, abused, exploited in the name of punishment. Punishment for being homosexual? Punishment for hooking up in a car with a man on the roadside because can’t go home? Punishment for showing audacity to step out of a heterosexual society?
I agree movies should not be appreciated for showing something as basic as a character from real life. But I also feel that if small steps are not appreciated, vast changes will never be witnessed. Moreover, even in above mentioned art films, male homosexual characters have a monopoly. I believe that the entire spectrums of gender & sexuality should be represented, not just in art films but in commercial Indian films as well.
I would like to conclude with a thought that with all this controversy of how Bollywood isn’t even doing the bare minimum in representing and showcasing all of society, will the viewers/audience accept films/plots with a transgender person as a protagonist? A fully fleshed out role highlighting all their adversities as well as the minutiae of their existence? Ultimately, Bollywood is a profit-oriented business and mostly would like to stick to whatever is within the present Zeitgeist.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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