He is a gay activist, makes movies on issues confronting the community and is delighted with the Delhi High Court order decriminalising consensual gay sex between adults. Now, Sridhar Rangayan feels it's high time the censor board also updates its rule book.
Rangayan has made three films on homosexuality -- the first is still lying with the censor board, the second he did not bother to submit for certification at all and the third has been accepted by the Central Board of Film Certification but with an 'A' certificate.
"The censor board has rules which are antiquated and it's not accepting today's trend. I think it's time to fight to get the censor board rules changed. What we need is to have some young people as part of the core committee," Rangayan told IANS.
In 2003, he made "Pink Mirror", which is said to be India's first film on drag queens. Though it has been screened at various NGO meets, it has yet to be screened in India.
"I approached the censor board thrice for the certificate and every time they rejected the movie. There is no nudity, titillation in my film. I have depicted my characters very sensitively, still I didn't get the certificate," Rangayan said on phone from Mumbai.
"They had strange reasons to reject the film. They say that I have not depicted the gay community in good light. It was funny because I'm know the community very well. They wanted my characters to be apologetic for being gay. They wanted me to show characters crying and asking why god has made them like this," said Rangayan, who is founder of the Mumbai-based The Humsafar Trust that advocates gender and sexuality issues.
"It's strange that some of the censor board members were okay with the film but the committee head told me that he cannot give me a certificate. And the strangest comment I heard was, 'show without showing and say without saying'," he added.
When Rangayan made his second film Yours Emotionally in 2006, he didn't bother to take it to the censor board and instead it screens it at NGO meets. Starring Prateek Gandhi, Jack Lamport, Premjit, Ikhlaq Khan and Ajai Rohilla, the film is about two best friends - Ravi and Paul. The two come to India on a vacation and attend an all night gay party. Surprised by the openness of their hosts and the aggressiveness of the guests, the boys fall into the steadily growing Indian gay culture.
"I know I make balanced films. In India, no full-fledged gay film has been released except 'Brokeback Mountain'. I still wonder how they managed to get a certificate to release the movie here," he said.
His third film 68 Pages, however, has got an A-certificate from the board and he is hoping for a commercial release.
"I wanted an U-certificate for my 68 Pages - the film is about a homosexual couple, but I have presented it in a sanitised manner. In my film... you won't find in your face sexuality. I wanted college students to see the film because it addresses issues related to them," he said.
Another director who has made a film on the issue is Ashish Sawhny. His Happy Hookers is a documentary that explores the secret world of male sex workers in the country.
Then there is US-based Indian filmmaker Manan Singh Katohora's When Kiran Met Karen. The cast of the film boasts both Indian and American names like Samrat Chakrabarti, Manish Dayal, Shetal Shah, Chriselle Almeida, Kelli Holsopple, Tirlok Malik, Kevin Byrd, Rekha Brar, Hiral Shah and Ammara Ali.
It is about a Bollywood actress called Kiran who is on the verge of becoming an international movie star until she meets sexy magazine journalist Karen and they find themselves swept up in a torrid affair.
None of these films have been released in India. As Rangayan says, perhaps we will have to wait till the censor board changes it rules. But Rangayan will continue to make films anyway.