The seventh edition of the Kashish queer film festival was inaugurated by legendary British actor Ian McKellen — sporting a cheeky red T-shirt — at Liberty cinema on Wednesday.
‘Some People Are Gay. Get Over It’ the tee declared, as McKellen — who, incidentally, turned 77 on Wednesday — lit the inaugural lamp and declared the five-day fest open. Cheers and applause greeted the gay icon as he took off his white blazer, walked on stage and pointed to the shirt.
“This reminds me of the early days of the gay rights fight in the UK,” he said, referring to the fact that homosexual sex is still a criminal act under the Indian Penal Code. “Beautiful, beautiful India is at a crossroads right now. You can be stuck in the colonial past or enter the modern world. Prepare to embrace that we are all born equal and we should all be treated equally. That’s the future Mahatma Gandhi dreamt to see.”
Actor Sonam Kapoor added, “Hopefully one day it’ll just be called a film festival and everyone will be just human beings. “
Kashish celebrates freedom of the spirit, as festival director Sridhar Rangayan put it. “It has been a challenging journey. In 2010, when we started in a 123-seater PVR and now we are here at Liberty with 1,400 seats. We hope it’ll only grow.”
The audience comprised members of the gay community, supporters, McKellen fans and those who were all of the above. “We wanted to be a part of the queer ambience and meet new people. Plus, I am a McKellen fan and saw him up close,” said French expat Laurent Fabbricatore, a 40-year-old general practitioner, who attended with his partner.
Translator Anup Singh, 29, from Worli said, “Kashish is a ray of hope. The people here are here to support the community — they could watch the films online if it was just about that.”