Why isn’t Bol­ly­wood talk­ing about LGBT law re­view, asks Onir

HT City - - FRONT PAGE - Rishabh Suri rishab.suri@htlive.com

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, 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 only the LGBTQ+ com­mu­nity be speak­ing up about this? I don’t un­der­stand what keeps peo­ple from talk­ing about it.”

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 their film’s re­lease, when they hold spe­cial screen­ings for the com­mu­nity,” says Onir, adding, “This is­sue is such a big thing, it’s not pos­si­ble that it doesn’t af­fect or touch any­one [in the in­dus­try].” 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; 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. Peo­ple say ‘YouTube pe daal do’, but who’s go­ing to pay for it? Peo­ple don’t un­der­stand there’s huge eco­nomics in­volved [in mak­ing a film]. You won’t have such films com­ing out un­til there’s sup­port from within the in­dus­try,” he signs off.

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