Talk about gays and their acceptability problems are no longer hush-hush with Queer Pride rallies becoming an annual event in many Indian cities. And one-film old writer-director Tarun Mansukhani takes pride in bringing homosexuality out of the closet in films with his commercial hit Dostana. He now plans a sequel to the comedy.
"It was an intentional thought to make a light-hearted film on a serious subject. I personally believe that is the way to make people listen. If I were to attempt an Indian version of Brokeback Mountain or make an equally serious film, I don't think I'd get half the response I've received," Mansukhani told IANS in an e-mail interview.
"I didn't expect people to walk out of the theatre saying 'Hey! I?m okay with homosexuality'. I wanted them to walk out laughing and then later when the entire family was sitting at the dinner table laughing about the film, I was hoping that someone would continue the discussion. And I achieved that. I'm proud to say that I?ve made homosexuality come out of the closet and onto the dinner table. I think it worked," he said.
The 33-year-old now plans to launch part two of his successful hit that had Abhishek Bachchan, John Abraham and Priyanka Chopra in lead roles.
"I am thinking of Dostana 2. The reception the film got made Karan (Johar) and myself sit down and question ourselves. I have had ideas of what I would like the sequel to be like...but they are on a back burner until my mind is clear about what kind of film I want to make next," he said.
The second instalment will see Abhishek and John consolidate their onscreen bonding as Sam and Kunal respectively.
"'Dostana' is about friendship...the friendship between Sam (Abhishek) and Kunal (John). And what completes this friendship is me...If I ever were to venture on Dostana 2, it can only be with Sam and Kunal that can only be played by AB and John," he said.
Rumours were also rife that Priyanka won't revisit her character Neha in the sequel.
"When it comes to Neha she is the pillar of my friendship. The one I lean on. Whether she ((Priyanka) is part of the film or not, I will always have her to lean on as my friend...and that I take for granted. She will always be there," he said.
Interestingly, despite the massive success of the movie, Mansukhani has been absent from the limelight.
"I?ve always wanted my work to do my talking rather than my quotes...the subdued silence is just a manifestation of that...Currently I'm in a whirlpool of thoughts as having the freedom to make any kind of film I want has got me running in several directions all at once," he reasoned.
A regular at Dharma Production's, Mansukhani started his career as an assistant director to Karan Johar for Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), graduating to first assistant director in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001) and Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (2006) respectively.
There were also reports that he was casting young actors Imran Khan and Ranbir Kapoor in a film after being impressed by their comic timing as hosts during the Filmfare Awards 2009.
Asked about the same, he said: "There have been many stories about my next and I'm glad to see there are people out there who are keen to see my next... so till then all I'll say is keep guessing," he said.
Mansukhani, however, conceded to having them in his wish list as "they are talented, look great and have great comic timing".
Mansukhani's other project includes animation film Koochie Koochie Hota Hai with voice overs from Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol and Rani Mukerji.
(Robin Bansal can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)