Bollywood tackles gay taboo
William Clowes: Bollywood tackles gay taboo
17 Nov 10

Following last summer’s decriminalisation of gay sex in India, the transition from legalisation to widespread acceptance has not been seamless. Bollywood has tackled this taboo directly with last week’s release of Dunno Y Na Jaane Kyun. It is the first Indian film to show a gay kiss, and its director claims that it is also the first to offer a realistic perspective of a homosexual relationship.

The crew started filming last year following June’s welcome ruling and the first draft arrived in the editing room seven months ago. The opposition that has met the film’s director, Sanjay Sharma, and leading man Kapil Sharma, may reflect the fact that full decriminalisation of homosexuality still relies on the judgement passing through the Supreme Court.

Firstly, despite the director’s expectation that his film would escape  significant sanitisation, the censors were quick to swoop. Kapil Sharma has said, “the censor board has cut 50 per cent of the kissing and love-making scenes between me and my screen-partner. They’ve also cut the shots of back nudity. Just a glimpse of the butt is there.”

There have also been expressions of regret and self-censorship amongst some of the cast, although Sharma insists playing gay was worth it. Yuvraaj Parasher who plays Kapil’s gay lover has been ostracised and disowned by his family, and some cast members seem to have distanced themselves from the project during the build up to its release.

The BJP, the ever outraged right wing Hindu nationalist party, have been making their fury known. Members of its zealous youth wing have laid siege to Sharma’s house and he has received numerous threats from individuals and organisations. In October, these threats caused a delay in the film’s release date.

And it transpires that a number of cinemas have got cold feet about screening the film. On Monday, several multiplexes in Mumbai announced they will not be showing it because the film is not compatible with the values of the family audiences they wish to attract.

Although the acting has not met with universally positive reaction, the film is not without its supporters in India, especially amongst gay activists. It is due to be released in Britain next year.