India's favourite reality show Bigg Boss returned with its 11th edition two weeks ago. No matter how much the critics crib about the show being crass and filthy, it works like a drug, and many of us make sure to tune in to watch it every day. Along with the show also returned the beloved host, Salman Khan. A selection of known and unknown faces made a perfect mix of contestants this season. The genius stroke of connecting to the audience through commoner-contestants is being replicated this season. And after a long time something we have never seen before on the show happened. The show, for a very brief moment, became an educational show that the nation deserves.
On the latest episode of Bigg Boss 11, Salman Khan schooled contestant Jyoti Kumari about sexual orientation. You see, Jyoti, in an earlier episode had condescendingly flaunted her ignorance about how a gay man would produce a heir, while talking to Vikas Gupta. Salman, without making any hue and cry about her comment, simply explained the meaning of metro-sexuality, heterosexuality, bisexuality and homosexuality and alternative methods of having a child to the young lady. By doing so he drove the point home as he humanised people of alternate sexualities in the contestant's eyes. A feeble 'sorry' is uttered by Jyoti as Salman moved on to the next topic. While addressing this might not be a landmark event for Indian TV, it might have a butterfly effect.
Bigg Boss has hosted many contestants from the LGBT community in the past. We don't need to remind you that none of them have had a successful run on the show. Bobby Darling was ousted from the show in week 1 of the first season of Bigg Boss. The contestants have always had to face the same insults and homophobic slurs inside the house that they have been facing in the real world. You'd think that educated contestants will set an example for the outside world but Armaan Kohli, Akash Dadlani and likes of them have always failed the purpose. Not to forget, the show is majorly watched by the massy audience, who are unaware or pretending to be unaware of various sexual orientations. Sex-ed is not practiced in India to educate people. With his simple words, Salman brought the topic out in the open in many households across the country. Some families might have flinched at the mention while some might have discussed it.
(ALSO READ: Bigg Boss 11: Ex contestant VJ Andy REACTS to Akash Dadlani and Vikas Gupta's fight, calls the former homophobic)
India is plagued by numerous archaic laws left behind after the British colonial rule. Some of the inhuman laws and rules are still waiting to be nullified or amended. One such is the section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalises consensual sex between members of the same gender. While it is legal to be gay, lesbian, and bisexual in our country, it is illegal to act upon the desires. More than that, it is the regressive and hateful outlook of the society that has caused extravagant damage to the LGBT community. Not many celebrities voice their opinions against this obvious violation of human rights. I am able to recall one or two names who are vocal allies of the community and the cause. And in this saddening scenario, Salman has emerged as a breath of fresh air on the latest episode of Bigg Boss.
Akshay Kumar played gay man for a cameo in the action comedy Dishoom without making it a caricature and stunned the world. In one of the most subtle portrayals of a gay character, Fawad Khan comes out to his mother and brother in Kapoor and Sons. We learnt later that this strong role was first offered to Saif Ali Khan, who has on record admitted to regretting the decision to give it a pass. In an interview, Ranbir Kapoor admitted to being skeptical about playing a gay role, before Fawad did it with grace and panache, and revealed he is now open to possibilities. The word 'gay' is not even uttered once in Kapoor and Sons, and as a matter of fact we don't even see the Kapoor who knows his orange from tangerine holding hands with a man. It is that subtlety of the role that brought upon a change in actors like Saif and Ranbir. Salman's words are sure to create ripples in Bollywood on the same lines.
Salman Khan, on an episode of Koffee with Karan, was questioned by the overzealous host, Karan Johar, that with a gun to his head which male celeb he'd have gay encounter with; a question repeated on the show with every guest. Salman took a few seconds to settle in and said "No such gun has been invented yet!", and then proceeded to name the host. "Just to make you happy, Karan!" he added. From that episode to this, Salman has definitely brought upon a change in his outlook and is now helping others see reason too.
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