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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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Ram Gopal Varma booked in ‘Murder’ movie row

Balaswamy, who had approached the court last month, sought a ban on the film. He also said that photos of Pranay and his daughter-in-law Amrutha were being used without their consent.

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Ram gopal verma

Hyderabad, July 4 : Telangana police on Saturday booked controversial filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma as per a court directive in connection with his proposed movie ”Murder” based on an alleged incident of honour killing.

A case against Varma and producer Natti Karuna was booked at Miryalaguda Town- I police station in Nalgonda district.

The court issued the direction on a petition filed by P.Balaswamy, whose son Pranay Kumar was murdered in 2018 by his father-in-law Maruthi Rao who had refused to accept his marriage with his daughter.

Varma and the producer were booked under Indian Penal Code (IPC) section 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) and other sections of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act.

Balaswamy, who had approached the court last month, sought a ban on the film. He also said that photos of Pranay and his daughter-in-law Amrutha were being used without their consent.

Pranay, a 24-year-old Dalit, was hacked to death by hired killer in full public view when he along with his wife and mother were coming out of a private hospital in Miryalaguda on September 14, 2018. The sensational murder was caught on CCTV camera.

Maruthi Rao, who belonged to an upper caste, and seven others were arrested.

Rao, who had struck the deal to kill Pranay for Rs one crore, allegedly committed suicide in March this year in Hyderabad.

Varma announced last month that he was making a film on the story of Maruthi Rao and his daughter.

“On the occasion of Father’s Day I am launching the first look poster of a film based on the tragic story of Amrutha and her over loving father Maruthi Rao,” the director had tweeted on June 21.

“This is going to be a heart wrenching story based on the Amrutha and Maruthi Rao saga of the dangers of a father loving a daughter too much.”

Amrutha, who still lives with her in-law, had reacted strongly to Varma”s plans and vowed to fight a legal battle to stop the film.

“Its foolish to assume that I am going to show someone involved in a negative light because I strongly believe that nobody is bad and only bad circumstances make people look bad or make them behave bad and that”s what I intend to explore in ”Murder”,” Varma had said in one of the series of tweets on the issue.

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Film on girl who cycled from Gurugam to Bihar during COVID-19 lockdown lands in controversy

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jyoti kumari cycling

A controversy erupted on Friday over the rights of a film on Jyoti Kumari, a 15-year-old girl who cycled from Gurugam to Darbhanga in Bihar during the coronavirus lockdown, after filmmaker Vinod Kapri claimed he has already made an advance payment for the rights over a month ago. Film production venture Wemakefilmz on Friday said it has legally acquired the exclusive motion picture rights for the story.

On Tuesday, PTI reported that four friends, united by passion for films and documentaries, had bagged the rights for the life story of Jyoti. Jyoti will be the protagonist and the project is to set go on floors from August, Shine Krishna, who will be directing the film, had said.

Miraj and Fairoz, working in the Middle East, along with Krishna and Sajith V Nambiar have acquired the rights for the film. They are partners at Wemakefilmz, a nearly two-decade old venture set up by Krishna.

Regarding Kapri’s claim, Krishna said the former’s agreement does not have legal value. Earlier in the day, Kapri tweeted that as per an agreement on May 27, the rights of the film is with Bhagirathi Films Pvt Ltd (BFPL) and no one else can make the movie.

In response to a tweet by acclaimed actor Sanjay Mishra about the film, Kapri tweeted that someone had given Mishra wrong information or misguided him.

Kapri also tagged a video which showed signing of the agreement and a statement to that effect by Mohan Paswan, the girl’s father. In his tweet, Mishra said his participation in the film as the father was how the film fraternity contributes to the society.

Tagging Shine Krishna and Sujit Nambiar, Mishra said the team will bring to the fore the eight days in the life of Jyoti who pedalled more than 1,000 kilometres with father sitting on the back seat of a cycle.

In a statement, Kapri’s BFPL said it signed an agreement with the girl’s father Mohan Paswan on May 27 and 20 per cent of the amount was paid into a bank account, while the remaining 80 per cent was to be paid upon commencement of work.

“Today, we came to know about the new agreement, which is illegal and a breach of contract with Bhagirathi Films. We request Mohan to cancel this new contract and put an end to the dispute. If the new contract goes into force neither Kapri nor Mohan will be able to make a film,” the statement claimed.

The statement was issued by Mahendra, an associate director with BFPL.

Krishna said Wemakefilmz has legally acquired the exclusive motion picture rights on Jyoti Kumari and family.

“Before signing the life story rights option agreement, we have crossed checked the agreement which has been signed through somebody by Kapri… he was not physically present there and there was no sign of Jyoti or her mother. So that one agreement will not have any legal value,” he said in a statement issued on behalf of Wemakefilmz.

Wemakefilmz exclusively holds the life story rights of Jyoti Kumai and family. The agreement has been signed, notarised and registered by the production house’s partners — Krishna, Sajith V Nambiar, Mohammed Miraj Chathoth and Fairoz Chirammal. In the statement, BFPL said nearly a month after signing a contract for a film, web series and documentary with it, Mohan Paswan has entered into a new contract with Krishna.

The struggle for Jyoti’s family began in January when her father, an e-rickshaw driver in Gurugram, was injured. She then came to Gurugram in Haryana. With no means to earn a livelihood, things turned difficult and Paswan’s landlord gave him an ultimatum to either pay the rent that was due for a few months, or leave amid the lockdown.

At that time, it was Jyoti’s idea to cycle all the way — almost 1,200 kilometres — to their village in Darbhanga.

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Now Sushant’s father demands CBI inquiry into his death

Sushant Singh, a resident of Patna, allegedly committed suicide on June 14 at his flat in Bandra, Mumbai. Since then, various social and political organizations have been demanding a CBI inquiry into his death.

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Sushant Singh Rajput

Patna, July 4 : There is a growing demand for a CBI inquiry into the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput, who allegedly committed suicide at his Mumbai residence on June 14.

A Twitter account of Sushant”s father K.K. Singh has surfaced, through which he is demanding justice for his son. He has asked for a probe by the CBI.

Sushant”s father K.K. Singh on his Twitter handle wrote, “Today my son Sushant”s soul is crying and is demanding an investigation by the CBI.”

In another tweet he wrote, “My son Sushant Singh Rajput was very brave. I know he can never commit suicide. An attempt is being made to prove his death as suicide though it is a murder. I request for a CBI inquiry into the entire matter.”

Reactions are pouring in on his Twitter handle after Singh”s tweets.

Sushant Singh, a resident of Patna, allegedly committed suicide on June 14 at his flat in Bandra, Mumbai. Since then, various social and political organizations have been demanding a CBI inquiry into his death.

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