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Same-sex love story: B’wood looks at narrative beyond gender

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Sheer Qorma

Mumbai, Oct 16 : Barring Deepa Mehtas 1996 film “Fire”, which featured Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das, average Indian cine goers could hardly recall a film on same-sex relationship of two women, until the poster of the upcoming film “Sheer Qorma” was unveiled last week. The poster shows two hijab-clad women — played by Divya Dutta and Swara Bhaskar — as a couple.

The poster was launched at the recent India Film Project, an annual two-day event in Mumbai that encourages cinematic content creation. At the launch, the maker and actors of “Sheer Qorma” said sexual orientation should not necessarily be held up as the bar while narrating an authentic story on LGBTQ+ community.

Since Divya and Swara do not belong to the LGBTQ+ community, the question arose if they could really portray their homosexual characters with authenticity.

“There is no right or wrong way of finding authenticity while creating any character, be it an LGBTQ+ or a regular character. So in a way, unless you felt heartbreak how will you write about heartbreak in an authentic way? Similarly, in a society where one goes through a very different kind of experience being a queer, one has to understand that every journey is very intimate. One cannot really interview few people from the community and create a character. The nuance would be missed,” the film’s director Faraz Arif Ansari told IANS.

“Having said that, it (sexuality of a storyteller) cannot be a limitation. Yes, it is true that when a storyteller from the community makes a film, we can get a more authentic experience. But that is not because of the gender identity of the storyteller, because one must not forget, a story has no gender,” Ansari added.

A director who has sensitively and sensibly explored sexuality in varied shades through efforts such as “My Brother… Nikhil”, “Bas Ek Pal”, “I Am”, and “Shab” is Onir, incidentally one of India’s few filmmakers who are openly gay. Onir does not agree a filmmaker’s sexuality affects his exploration of the subject matter at hand.

“I do not think the sexual orientation of a storyteller or an actor can define the authenticity of any character that he/she creates. We have an example of ‘Brokeback Mountain’ by Ang Lee, so I do not think that sexual orientation could be a bar,” said Onir.

There are several examples of films where homosexual characters have been presented with utmost dignity by directors who do not adhere to such orientation in real life.

On the other hand, a National award-winning filmmaker like the late Rituparno Ghosh, who was self-confessedly queer, made films such as “Dahan”, “Asukh”, “Dosar”, and “The Last Lear”, which poignantly explored man-woman relationships.

Said Divya, about ‘‘Shreer Qorma”: “There is no norm in which one has to project if he/she is a LGBTQ+ person in daily life, or behave in a certain way just because of their sexual orientation. As a performer, all I had to do was to portray my character in ‘Sheer Qorma’ was to add my sensibility to the beautiful script I was offered.”

Kubbra Sait, who played a transgender in the first season of the web series “Sacred Games” said: “I am often asked how I could play a transgender, being female. Nobody asked Anurag (Kashyap, one of the directors of the show) how he could direct the scene, and why there was no director from the community hired to do so. The fact is, it is all about the exposure one has and how empathetic the individual is.”

“There was no momnent of awkwardness or shame for me to play a transgender, because, for me, it was about playing another human being. My life’s experiences made me more accepting,” Kubbra pointed out.

She added: “When the casting call for the role went out, everyone was welcome for audition — male, female and transgender actors, too. I know that the makers waited for six months to get the right actor to perform the role but they really did not get anyone. And people from the community were uncomfortable to portray their reality ecause it takes self-acceptance.”

With time, Bollywood is surely changing. More actors in the industry are coming forward to be part of same-sex love stories.

This year Sonam Kapoor appeared in the film “Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga”, which revolves around a lesbian romance. Ayushmann Khurrana plays a gay character in “Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan”. Akshay Kumar, who essayed a gay cameo in “Dhishoom”, is gearing up to play a transgender woman in the upcoming “Laxmmi Bomb”.

(Arundhuti Banerjee can be contacted at [email protected])

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Vikram Bhatt’s film with Hina Khan to release in Jan 2020

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vikram bhatt

Filmmaker Vikram Bhatts “Hacked” with actress Hina Khan has been wrapped up and the film is set to release on January 31, 2020.

The thriller explores the dark side of the digital and the social media world.

The film throws light on cybercrime and shows how putting out everything there on the web can be dangerous.

Hina will be seen in a glamorous avatar as an editor of a fashion magazine in the film.

“‘Hacked’ is about the perils of our online lives and talks about how in today’s time everything about everyone is just a click away, nothing remains exclusive or private,” said the filmmaker.

“Hacked” directed by Bhatt, is presented by Loneranger Productions and produced by Amar P. Thakkar and Krishna Bhatt.

The film also stars Rohan Shah, Mohit Malhotra and Sid Makkar.

Hina, who was part of one of the longest running TV shows — “Yeh Rishta Kya Khelata Hai”, has another film titled “Lines” for which she had travelled to Cannes Film Festival this year.

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Lata Mangeshkar is ‘much better’

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Lata Mangeshkar

Mumbai, Nov 20 : Melody queen Lata Mangeshkar, who has been hospitalised for viral chest congestion, is doing “much better”.

IANS contacted Mangeshkar’s official spokesperson on Tuesday morning and we were given this statement: “She is much better.”

The legendary singer was rushed to Breach Candy hospital last week after she complained of breathing problem.

On Tuesday, when we asked for more details about Mangeshkar’s health, the official spokesperson responded: “We can’t say anything more.”

Over the past week, several Bollywood celebrities including Shabana Azmi and Hema Malini, apart from numerous fans, have been praying for her speedy recovery.

The iconic singer, who turned 90 on September 28, became a recipient of India’s highest civilian honour Bharat Ratna in 2001. She has recorded songs in over 36 Indian languages.

Born on September 28, 1929, she has also been honoured with Dadasaheb Phalke Award and France’s highest civilian award, Officer of the Legion of Honour, besides numerous national and international awards.

In 1974, the Guinness Book of Records ranked her as the most recorded artiste in the history. She had reportedly sung over 25,000 songs between 1948 and 1974.

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Kamal Haasan, Rajinikanth may join hands

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Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan

Chennai, Nov 19 : Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth, the two Tamil movie megastars with political ambitions, said here on Tuesday they could join hands if needed.

While Kamal Haasan has floated a party called the Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM), Rajinikanth has announced his intentions to launch a political party and contest all the 234 Assembly seats in the state as and when the polls are announced.

Speaking to reporters at the airport Kamal Haasan said, he and Rajinikanth were friends for a long time and if needed they would join hands for the welfare of Tamil Nadu.

Speaking to reporters later, Rajinikanth echoed Kamal Haasan.

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