India's first ad with lesbian pair treats them as 'normal', says actor

  • Anindita Acharya, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Jun 11, 2015 17:34 IST

A three-and-a-half-minute advertisement of online shopping portal featuring a lesbian couple, has taken social media by storm. And its actors are getting a lot of attention.

The now viral ad by Myntra for their ethnic-wear collection, Anouk, titled The Visit, features Kolkata-based stylist and fashion designer Neha Panda along with Anupriya Goenka. It shows the anxiety of a live-in lesbian couple as they are about to meet one of the girl's parents, as a couple. The advertisement is part of the Bold is Beautiful series of the clothing brand.

A still from the ad (YouTube grab)

Since the advertisement went viral, Panda, who has styled for Bengali films such as Bedroom (2012), Challenge 2 (2012), Maach Misti & More (2013), Kolkata Calling (2014) and the recently released Family Album, says she has been flooded with messages congratulating her, especially on social networking sites. Panda plays one of the roommates staying together at a flat in the advertisement, who gets ready to welcome her live-in partner's parents.

"Everyone is congratulating me on Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Twitter. It feels great," says the young stylist, who is known for introducing fresh fashion trends on the Bengali big screen. The advertisement was shot in Kolkata. Panda says that she was in Odisha when she received the call from Mumbai asking her to audition for the role.

"They required someone with short hair. I sent my audition video and I was short-listed," she says.

Naturally, Panda is excited, more so because the advertisement went on air just a day before the release of Family Album (she is the stylist of the film), which too deals with a lesbian couple, played by Swastika Mukherjee and Paoli Dam.

"In Family Album, Swastika and Paoli play a lesbian couple and they too break the news of their relationship to Swastika's mother in the film. Similarly, the advertisement too is not a clichéd concept. The lesbian couple is treated like a normal couple and they too get ready to make an announcement about their relationship to a partner's parents."

"I agreed to be a part of the advertisement because it's not a clichéd advertisement. My only concern was my height, as I look too short in front of Anupriya and if I would be required to wear heels. I support the LGBT community and have lots of friends. I am happy I did this ad," Panda, who has also acted in Bengali films such as Hawa Badal and Maach Misti & More, told Hindustan Times.

Interestingly, Panda has also been offered a Hindi show after the advertisement went viral. However, she maintains that she is a fashion designer and stylist and acting is not her first choice.

There have been few instances in the past, when acceptance of a gay relationship has been hinted at - about five years ago, an Hindustan Times ad series titled, It is Time, featured a man hitting another man on his head with the HT newspaper for being nasty to a gay person.

Read: India’s first ad featuring a lesbian couple deserves a thumbs-up

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