For the first time, a mainstream Indian film portrays a homosexual relationship in a serious light, writes AKASH ARORA.
Indian film director Sanjay Sharma is a religious man. This becomes obvious when you dial his Mumbai mobile number and, instead of a ring, you hear Om Bhur Bhuva Swaha – a devotional song played in Hindu temples during prayers.
Sharma’s choice of ringtone is curious given the topic he’s about to discuss: homosexuality in Indian society and as portrayed in his movie Dunno Y Na Jaane Kyon, which kicks off the Satrang: South Asian Queer Film Festival next week.
“It was a difficult subject; I knew that from the beginning,” Sharma says. “But I had no idea how challenging it would be to [actually] execute it.”
India’s prolific Bollywood film industry produces about 1000 films a year but same-sex relationships is one subject it has dared not tackle. Attempts have been made to address homosexuality but they were either caricatural – as in 2008′s Dostana, in which the two male protagonists pretend to be gay to win the affections of the leading lady – or exploitative, as in the case of 2004′s Girlfriend, in which a lesbian relationship was sexed up to suck in the sleaze-loving crowds.
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