Filmmaker Onir says his movie script on gay soldier has been rejected by defence ministry: 'I won't demean anybody'
We Are, the sequel to Onir's I Am, is facing roadblocks. The defence ministry rejected the script when he sought an NOC. The filmmaker says he was told that it is illegal to show a gay character as an army man.
Onir's next film, We Are, has been rejected by the ministry of defence, and the filmmaker has said that it was because his script was about an army officer who is a gay character. Onir's gay character in the film was inspired by the real-life story of Major J Suresh.
Responding to the development, Onir told NDTV, "According to the new law, if you have any character or anything to do with the forces, the Indian army, you have to get an NOC from the Indian army to be able to make that film. Otherwise, you won't be able to get that certified. On December 16, I formally applied (for the NOC) with my script, which I think treats everything with a lot of dignity and respect. I am not out here to demean anybody. I have a lot of love and respect for the Indian army."
"Then, the day before yesterday is when I got the email and I was told that the 'content has been examined, analysed and rejected.' I, of course, have asked for clarification, asked why exactly (was it rejected). I was told over phone, it has not yet come in writing, that because there is no problem with the script. But, the fact that I have shown a gay character as an army man is illegal," he added.
The filmmaker also said that he could show homosexuality and police abuse of a gay character in his films in 2005 when homosexuality was still criminalised by law. After years of struggles and campaigns by rights activists, Supreme Court of India decriminalised homosexuality in 2018.
Onir has also been sharing his thoughts through a series of tweets. He wrote Friday evening, “I have utmost respect and love for my army and wish they would not discriminate anyone who wants to serve the country because of their sexuality.”
He also tweeted, “It’s a long long road to being treated as equal citizens, who have the right like every other citizen to serve our nation and its army. Why should one’s sexuality decide if one is capable? miles to go before we sleep.”
In a letter addressed to the Mumbai office of Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), the defence ministry had urged filmmakers to seek a NOC when dealing with subjects or characters related to the defence forces.
Also read: Onir: I’m making a sequel to I Am called We Are, but like the original, I’m told ‘it’s too gay’, even by OTT platforms
The letter said, “It has been brought to the ministry’s notice that some production houses, making films on army themes, are using content which are distorting the image of Indian army. Therefore, the producers of movies/webseries etc based on Army theme may be advised to obtain the NOC from Ministry of Defence before the telecast of any movie/documentary on Army theme in public domain. They may also be advised to ensure that any incident which distorts the image of Defence Forces or hurts their sentiments may be prevented.”