If gay movies were in simpler format, it would be much easier for activism to change people’s views about the community
I was watching TV with family, Hum Aapke Hain Kaun (a classic hit family movie in Hindi). Conversationally, my Aunt said, “This director’s all movies are so clean! Look what he’s used for sets- green fields, for props- fruits, and for theme- simple love. I dont know what’s with the new girls- all dancing in short bikinis in hot discos.”
It struck me that if gay movies (i.e. mainstream Bollywood gay movies, which are few of course) were in this old and simpler format, it would be so much easier for activism to change people’s views about our community (no offence to current activists and their genuine hard work to bring visibility to community, I salute them for everything they have done for us). By simpler format in movies, I mean- two boys falling in love (not because of hot looks or abuse or complicated psychological situations, but because of plain vanilla love), holding hands and walking down a beautiful garden (instead of licking each other’s bodies in the bed), one guy’s family has accepted the relationship, the other’s family hasn’t, there’s some sweet emotional drama like there used to be in those melodramatic black n white movies, and then all ends well with a Hum Sath-Sath Hain music, with both families living with the gay couple all under one roof. A sweet simple dreamy movie that a gay guy / a lesbian girl can watch with his/her family, thus helping the family to come to terms with the concept of different sexual orientations, without actually witnessing any gross sex scenes. A kiss will be the height of physical intimacy allowed in such movies. Clean and pretty !
We might be tempted to produce duplicates of Eating Out and Short Bus in Bollywood. We might want to bring in complex elements like one of the heroes being Bi. Or one of them having AIDS. But hold on!! I am not talking about movies for the gay audience (lets leave that upto Hollywood for the moment). I am talking about movies for the straight Indian audience, whom we want to get used to the fact that queer love exists and is simple. Why frighten them with our intra-community complications and politics? Why not present them with a simple goodey-sweet image of a happy queer world, where the heroine’s sorrow and happiness lies in her family’s decision to accept/reject her female lover. ( Will they accept a bahu for their beti ?) Let’s start with simpler stuff like mimicing Juste Une Questione D’amour. Instead of jumping to main-course, let’s serve the straight people some starters, won’t we?
I mean, look at this movie Dunno Y, Na Jaane Kyu. (Disclaimer: I haven’t seen the movie yet because it didn’t release in Pune, so please forgive any comments that contradict facts.) I know it took great pains and hard work to get actors and cast together to make a gay-themed movie on such a large scale in India. And Lata Mangeshkar singing a song for it is a salutable achievement, no doubt!! And the wars with the censor board and unavoidable controversies with media…. it takes huge amounts of perseverance to go through such an experience of epic proportions. (I know this because I once tried to put up a gay drama in my college and failed.) I bow down to the makers of the movie for the daring feat accomplished. BUT, BUT, BUT !! There is a big “but” here. (Stop reading big “butt” you pervert!) BUT I can’t take my family (to whom I just came out) to a movie whose cover poster shows two naked guys in an intimate embrace. The movie would have gotten a warmer reception by my family had it a poster of two dressed-up sober guys, just holding hands, with their families around.
A note of appreciation goes to whoever was responsible for the gay-sub-plot in the daily-soap Maryada. The representation of the gay-couple was exactly the sober-ised sort of representation I was searching for. Similarly, introduction of Hijras in Agneepath as mighty and trustable guardians was applaudable. Guess it’s time we show them in more interesting roles like teachers and doctors. Hopefully we will have some lesbian movie soon (no, I dont consider Fire (1996) as a lesbian movie).
I know that there is an angle about equal rights to present queer sex in movies because the straights are already doing so. I mean look at their songs- Chhokra Jawan Re, Chipka Le Fevicol Se and (my favourite) Jumpingum-Pumpingum. If they can flaunt their sexual activities on-screen, why can’t we? And what about the sexual freedom of sleeping with anyone without any strings attached? Of course we want all those rights and freedom and broad minded thinking, but I guess we (as a minority) are asking for too much and too soon. Let’s go step by step. Let’s PRIORITISE. The immediate need for an activist should not be the right-to-on-screen-sexual-freedom, but to change the dirty-ish-image-of-queer-people-in-general-Indian-mindset. To remove the lust-element and introduce the love-element.
The last line of above paragraph applies not only to the Indian-straight-mindset but also to the Indian-gay-mindset. A large majority of gays that I have met, believe that boy-to-boy-relation can only be for sex, not for true love (and hence marrying a girl is unavoidable part of life.. blah blah.. crap crap.. One of them actually laughed out loud when I talked about equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians! He just couldn’t wrap his head around the idea..) We need to change our own misconceptions too, don’t we? Are not most of us ready to drop our pants for almost any hot guy with place? If we wish the straights to respect us and our way-of-love, we need to begin with us respecting ourselves.
Not trying to lecture about, because I am a self-confessed sexual-compulsive ever-so-horny-slut. But believe me, I’m on the mend, I’m trying to prioritise things, first of which is to gain the trust and respect of my famliy, irrespective of gay or straight. To be a good son, irrespective of whether married or not. Back to watching TV with family- I wish Nach Baliye had a hot gay couple rocking the dance floor, I wish, I wish, I wish….