Onir doesn’t understand why Bollywood isn’t talking about LGBT law review
Director Onir is shocked at why Bollywood doesn’t speak up on issues pertaining to the LGBTQ+ community in India. He adds that films depicting same-sex relationships don’t find any takers.Updated: Jul 12, 2018 17:09 IST
The Supreme Court’s move to review a 2013 decision on Section 377 has given hope to the LGBTQ+ community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and more), including Bollywood personalities who belong to or support that community. However, the fact that no one in Bollywood is talking about this surprises film-maker Onir, who is openly gay and a vocal advocate of LGBTQ+ rights.
“The [wait for] the Supreme Court’s verdict has been trending for so many days, yet Bollywood’s influential trendsetters, idols, and opinion-makers are not talking about it,” says Onir. The review gives hope to the community that homosexual sex may be decriminalised. In 2013, the SC had overturned Delhi High Court verdict of 2009 that held Section 377 as “unconstitutional”. Since then, rights activists have been filing petitions for a review. And now, the review is under way.
Onir has directed films such as My Brother… Nikhil (2005) and I Am (2010), which talked about same-sex relationships. He says, “Why should it be only the LGBTQ+ community speaking up about this? I just don’t understand what keeps people from talking about it. People like me and Apoorva Asrani (writer) have always been known to be open.”
He adds that people try to time their solidarity with such issues only when they have a film release around the corner. “I’ve seen people interact with the LGBTQ+ community during certain film releases, when they hold special screenings for the community,” says Onir. “It was just two days back that I suddenly realised this. For example, I’m a believer in women’s rights, but I won’t wait for my film to come to talk about it; it’s a part of my everyday life. If I see something happening around the world, I will speak about it. This issue is such a big thing, it’s not possible that it doesn’t touch anyone.”
Onir also reveals that films dealing with same-sex relationships don’t find many takers. “I won’t blame just Bollywood; it’s the entire system. Satellite channels don’t want to buy it, you have a tough time there. It took me eight months to get a U/A certificate for Shab (2017). Your release becomes difficult, because there’s a huge section of the audience that’s homophobic. They won’t easily come [to the theatres]. People say ‘YouTube pe daal do’, but who’s going to pay for it? People don’t understand there’s such huge economics involved. You won’t have such films coming out until there’s support from within the industry,” he signs off.
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