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