“Had the characters portrayed by actors Abhishek Bachchan and John Abraham actually been gay in Dostana, the audience wouldn’t have accepted the film,” said Tarun Mansukhani while addressing film enthusiasts at a forum organised as part of the Mumbai International Film Festival on Monday.
Mansukhani, who directed the 2008 Bollywood film, was a panelist at the discussion on ‘Queering India: Gay and Lesbian portrayals in New Indian Cinema’, organised in collaboration with KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival at Cinemax, Versova.
“A section of society is still in the closet, with prejudices against the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.”
The panel also included filmmaker Onir (My Brother Nikhil), actor Rajit Kapoor, gay activist Sridhar Rangayan, columnist Aseem Chhabra and was moderated by film critic Rajeev Masand.
“The country is full of sex and sexuality, but inherent fears and thoughts curb their expression in cinema. It is highly doubtful Indian filmmakers will ever take the risk to make a movie on the lines of Brokeback Mountain (2005) in the immediate future,” said Chhabra.
The audience comprising activists and members from the LGBT community raised concerns about filmmakers using gay characters as an excuse for a joke in their films. “Gays and transgenders are used as ‘sidekicks’ in movies and the audience laughs at them instead of laughing with them,” said Rangayan.
Onir, who had to raise money for his film ‘I am’ through crowd funding, said: “Distribution and exhibition of such films are big obstacles. My film was not released in Chandigarh because distributors felt it would not be accepted by the masses.”