It is a truth universally acknowledged that we Indians are big time hypocrites when it comes to our sexuality. We may be known as the “Land of Kamasutra” and flaunt the paintings on the walls of the Ajanta and Ellora caves. Yet we shy away from addressing the most natural acts of all, casually stuffing it under the quilt (sometimes literally.) And while the heir to princely state got disowned because he dared to talk about his reality, a Television show about transsexuals refused to cast an actual transsexual actor for the lead role. Instead they gave us a petite, pretty young thing who looks better suited for the role of Alice in the Wonderland.
On a similar note, with sense of excitement I queue up the video of Anushka Manchanda and Monica Dogra for some guy called “Nanok”. It’s a video called “lay you down”. Here they try and portray a lesbian relationship between two consenting adult women. However, three minutes into the video my excitement turns into disappointment. Three minutes and thirty six seconds of awful singing later (giving Ananya Birla a run for her money) and ardent foreplay (half of it consisting of Anushka clutching her crotch, ) I am washed with a sense of confusion.
At the end of the video I am still waiting for something. I am still looking for a catch here. I even toyed with the idea that maybe I am not in actual a supporter of sexual acceptance. And if this is how I, a broad minded (hopefully so) twenty two year old react to this video, I wondered how the older generation would? A vision of all my parent’s colleagues and family friends viewing this video washes over in my mind. And I can’t help but laugh. And so, I do the next best thing, I make my mother sit down and watch it.
My mother is the epitome of cool and accepting when it comes to parental relationships. Thus she is the perfect testing audience for this experiment. Hence, within two and a half minutes, my mother has put the finger on the irk factor in my head. “Is this what you kids want people to identify with, when you talk of acceptance? Looks just like porn to me. Well shot, but porn nevertheless.” And yes, she is absolutely right.
When asking our parents or grand-parents, to accept us as we are in all our sexual identity, this is the mistake we make. We rub our same gender love- making into their faces in the name of love. Instead of meeting them halfway we want to forcefully drag them to our side. This is where we go wrong.
Now consider Cam and Mitchell from the American comedy series Modern Family or Santana and Brittany from the musical Glee. As an audience what is it that that makes us bond with them? We really want their love stories to work. It’s the similarity between ourselves and those characters on screen, not what’s different. The first step of acceptance always stems from the belief that in essence we are all the same. Even when we make different choices.
In the late 1990s an Indo Canadian Filmmaker Deepa Mehta made “Fire”. A movie depicting the journey of two women from average middle class joint family,going from sisters- in law to lovers. The older woman Radha, is played by Shabana Azmi. She is the ever dutiful wife whose husband has taken a vow of celibacy in an attempt to reach sainthood. On the other hand, Nandita Das plays Sita. She plays the playful and cheerful wife of the younger brother, who incidentally is only interested in his Chinese girlfriend. The two have always been supportive and fond of each other. But soon discover a deeper layer to their relationship as the movie progresses, and eventually falling in love.
Needless to say, the movie drew more than its fair share of ire from the Shiv Sena, the MNS and ofcourse, the RSS. While people protested outside theaters in Mumbai and Regal Cinema in Delhi. Many even came out openly in support of the film, holding candle light marches and shutting out opposition from movie theaters. Film star Dilip Kumar was subjected to a display of RSS workers in their underwear, protesting outside his residence in Mumbai and was labeled “Pakistani”. These people really need to come up with better way of making a point. But why did this happen? Well, simply because he had spoken in support of the Movie.
While we would like to think the times have progressed since then, the Supreme Court doesn’t let us believe that. SC’s Judgment in the Naz foundation case, dismissing the petition to decriminalize section 377 of the Indian Penal Code definitely put us ten years back, vis- a- vis the acceptance of LGBTQ relationships. However, the judgment, faulty as it may have been, did contain a shred of truth in it. The Indian society is still not ready to accept homosexuality as a normal phenomenon, and still considers it as a “disease” (with many doctors claiming they can cure it) or an abomination.
We need a wider sort of representation than John Abraham and Abhishek Bachchan in Dostana and Akshay Kumar in the recent Dhishoom. See people in homosexual relationships as the very same people as we are, doing the same things and enjoying the same moments. We need to see gay men as good fathers, a woman loving another woman as nothing abnormal. It is important that we understand that they are same people as you and me.
And that is something that this video most definitely fails to achieve.
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