Cineswami takes a closer look at Bollywood’s reel and real gay love stories
We live in liberal times. 2014 is almost upon us and we like to believe that we are free of prejudice. Which is why we applaud fearlessly and openly a gay love story that we witnessed with our own eyes at the literary carnival organised annually by a local rag at Mumbai’s Mehboob Studios that concluded last weekend. Like in most literary events in Mumbai (literary and Mumbai in the same sentence is a shocker, we know, but we crave your pardon), Bollywood set the tone. What drew excited murmurs was a lovey dovey couple that roamed the fabled environs of Mehboob hand in hand, looking deep into each other’s eyes, whispering sweet couplets, or perhaps setting future couplings.
Now, we don’t know who’s Arthur and who’s Martha in the relationship, and neither can we reveal their names for fear of zaalim duniya, bedard zamaana and paapi sansaar. However, we’ll give enough clues to you, dear, intelligent reader, so that you can deduce rather than us traduce.
One half of the couple is the writer son of a slain Pakistani politician. The other, our own Bollywood element as it were, is a two film old director who has made back to back hit heterosexual romances, both starring the hottest young upwardly mobile actor around, who belongs to one of the first families of Hindi cinema. The actor’s last film however, directed by a potty-mouthed one-hit wonder, was a box office disaster. We commend this open, out of the closet relationship, and wish more such public figures would come out. Today, the apradh in Manoj Kumar’s Bas yahi apradh main har baar karta hoon, aadmi hoon aadmi se pyar karta hoon is no longer an apradh. In Bollywood, certainly, it is the norm rather than the exception.
Sadly, the films do not reflect this as much as they should. Karan Johar’s sensitive gay segment in the Bombay Talkies portmanteau film was rightly appreciated. Otherwise, the cupboard is almost bare. Dostana took the comedic way out, and the gay bit of Fashion suffered from Madhur Bhandarkar’s lack of directorial nous. My Brother Nikhil, a section of I Am, the gay subplot in Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd., Fire and Mango Souffle all treated the subject with maturity and compassion. Sadly, as a counterpoint to these fine films we are also subjected to Girlfriend and Dunno Y Na Jaane Kyon. In more unfortunate news, we hear that a sequel to Dunno Y Na Jaane Kyon is being planned. Why can’t the makers just stick to watching the Yeh dosti song from Sholay instead? If they can wait till January 4, 2014, they can watch it in glorious 3D in a cinema of their choice. Or, if they are of the lesbian persuasion, they can tune into the Hema Malini-Parveen Babi romance in the Khwab ban kar koi aayega song from Razia Sultan.