A new fire in Hindi cinema
Two films on homosexuality and lesbianism scheduled for release
Deepa Mehta's Fire, starring Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das, met with violent protests as it carried undertones of a lesbian relationship.
Recently, Shamin Desai made an 86-minute long English film Auroville 336 based on homosexuality but did not release it, as he feared infuriated mobs would ransack his house.
But times have changed and this year sees two films releasing on the taboo subject.
Produced by KK Nayyar (former executive producer of Vijeta Films) Ghaav is almost ready. It is directed by Jay (former assistant of K Vishwanath) and stars Om Puri, Seema Biswas, Mita Vashisht, Govind Namdeo, Harish Patel and Deepak Tijori.
The film is about a woman (Seema Biswas) who is framed for her husband's murder and is imprisoned. The jailor (Mita Vashisht), a lesbian, forces herself on Seema. Later, Seema avenges her humiliation and kills Mita.
The second film is Samvedna, slated for a Diwali release.
Produced by B B Agarwal and directed by Sanjeev Chadha (who directed the teleserial Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin), the film stars Ayesha Jhulka, Nakul Vaid and newcomer Raj Singh.
The film, shot in only 25 days, is about a girl who has a homosexual friend. When she gets married, she realises that her gay friend is in love with her husband.
Incidentally, both Nayyar and Chaddha are absolutely confident that their films will not meet with the resistance and uproar that Fire met. They claim their films are inspired by true life incidents.
It may be recalled that Fire depicted two sisters-in-law with unhappy marriages who turned to each other for love and sexual satisfaction. After it was released, theatres were vandalised, screenings stopped, and there was much unrest in the Rajya Sabha. Protests against the film had reached a crescendo when many Shiv Sena party members demonstrated outside the home of actor Dilip Kumar --- a vocal supporter of the film --- wearing only their underwear.
"We have six or seven scenes suggesting lesbianism. There is nothing explicit like in Fire. It is quite subtle. Therefore, I do not fear any resentment or backlash," says Nayyar.
"Just wait and watch, the censors will clear my product. Such deviant sexual behaviour exists, doesn't it?" asks Chadha.
Both the films have a social message attached. Nayyar says, "Ghaav shows that women should not be taken for a ride. Seema avenges her humiliation by releasing the prisoners and killing Mita. It also says that one should not take pangas with women. If you snarl, she'll bite!"
"Samvedna maintains that gays who have a physical relation with married people are wrong. They can only create marital strife between couples. It tells every woman that she should not ignore matters if her husband shows any unusual sexual patterns, but fight for her cause until she wins him back. A married bisexual must control his gay activities if he wants peace and happiness at home," says Chaddha.