The Hindu, Friday, July 10, 2009
Director Onir says Bollywood needs to be more sensitive towards the depiction of homosexuality.
Photo: R.V. Moorthy Straight talk Onir is now working on “Omar”.
Director Onir, who gave us a sensitive take on the issue of homosexuality in “My Brother…Nikhil” is happy with Delhi High Court’s recent judgment on Section 377, which has made consensual gay sex legal but at the same time he maintains that it is just a beginning. “We must not forget that the judgment is valid only for Delhi and that too will remain in force only if the Centre doesn’t appeal against the judgment in the Supreme Court. I hope it will not take such an insensitive step.”
Onir says he doesn’t expect more and more gay people coming out of the closet after the judgement. “It still remains a matter of personal choice. Also, it will take a long time for the social stigma to go.” As for Bollywood support is concerned, Onir shares he didn’t find difficulty in getting the finances for “My Brother…Nikhil” because he had like minded people like Sanjay Suri by his side. “If you remember the film was distributed by Yash Raj Films.”
However, as far as the portrayal of homosexuality is concerned, Onir feels it still leaves a lot to be desired and has done more harm than good “I don’t know if producers and directors want to play safe, but they have been perpetuating Bobby Darling as the only representative of the gay community.” What about Karan Johar’s “Dostana”? “Again the film catered to box office myths regarding the subject. What is so laughable about two men walking hand in hand? It was as insensitive as the jokes on Nepalese men or when women are ridiculed as just objects of desire. The film fraternity should behave with certain responsibility as such portrayals perpetuate stereotypes in the society and there should not be double standards in criticising indecent portrayal of women and homosexuals.”
He says the judgment has sent the right message but the real change has to come from the family level. “Here religious leaders have to play a crucial role because they still have a strong hold on society’s psyche.” They say it is against nature and the religious texts? “I don’t agree. Hinduism has no one book and we have references of Arjun dressing up like a woman in “Mahabharat” and temple architecture has ample depiction of people of same sex making love. For ages, Christianity didn’t accept that the Earth is round, but ultimately they had to. People should understand that homosexuality is a scientific truth and has been found in different species of animals and plants.”
Onir is now working on “Omar”. “It is one of the five tales in the new film I am working on. It talks about how gay people are harassed by the police. It is based on real life stories which I have developed with Humsafar Trust. Rahul Bose is expected to play one of the characters.”