Back in 2003, he brought transsexuality out of the closet with his film “Gulabi Aaina”, but the Indian censor board banned the controversial movie. Almost a decade later, filmmaker Sridhar Rangayan feels his directorial venture would’ve been cleared had it been made in today.
“My short film ‘Gulabi Aaina’ was made in 2003 and was refused a certificate, but I feel if it was made today, it would be cleared without any problems because it dealt with the issue of transsexuality sensitively,” Rangayan told IANS.
The filmmaker, also the director of the ongoing third edition of Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival – the country’s only mainstream LGBT movie extravaganza – appealed twice for his film’s clearance. But in vain.
Though the movie has been screened at several international film festivals and earned critical acclaim, Rangayan still awaits the day he can show it to the audiences here.
He is hopeful as he strongly believes that the censor board has become more liberal.
“The Indian film industry and also the Indian censor board have definitely been quite progressive over the past decade. There have been films with bold and path breaking content, like Onir’s ‘I Am’ which has been released and won several awards including the National Award for best film this year.
“However, there is still apprehension when it comes to accepting films with sexual encounters between men, as is evident with the problems faced by ‘Dunno Y… Na Jaane Kyon’ and the recent short film ‘Amen’,” he said.
Post “Gulabi Aaina”, Rangayan also made “Yours Emotionally”, a gay love story. Then he directed “68 Pages”, which explores the hardships faced by HIV-affected people, with the spotlight on a transsexual bar dancer, a commercial sex worker and a gay couple among others.
The filmmaker says “the censor board needs to draw a line when it comes to depictions that are offensive, demeaning or hurtful to someone,” and not otherwise.
The subject of homosexuality has been dealt with in Hindi films like Deepa Mehta’s “Fire”. But its release in 1998 had triggered protests by right-wing Hindu groups for its uncensored depiction of homosexuality.
Though it injected fear and apprehension among mainstream filmmakers, they continued to experiment with the issue.
Onir dealt with homosexuality boldly, sensitively and intelligently in “My Brother Nikhil”. Released in 2005, the film got a thumbs up from both, the audiences and the critics.
In 2010 came “Dunno Y … Na Jaane Kyun”, which had Bollywood’s first gay screen kiss and stirred controversy months before its release. It was first premiered in April 2010 at the Kashish fest.
In between came films with gay sub-plots like “Kal Ho Naa Ho”, “Rules: Pyaar Ka Superhit Formula”, “Girlfriend”, “Kalyug”, “Page 3″, “Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd.”, “Fashion” and “Dostana”.