#entertainment

Hey Ram Gopal Varma, Ever Heard “Born This Way”?

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Ram Gopal Varma’s Dangerous is all that is wrong with LGBT representation in Bollywood films: Ram Gopal Varma, a director once known for critically acclaimed films like Rangeela, Kaun?, Satya and Sarkar is now being panned for an upcoming project of his, even before its release. Gopal’s latest offering Dangerous is yet to even grace us with its trailer, but a tweet announcing the project from the filmmaker has India’s LGBTQIA+ community and its allies banging their heads to a wall.

“DANGEROUS is about 2 women who because of bad experiences with men, passionately fall in love with each other and their intense affair throws them into the midst of DANGEROUS criminals and even more DANGEROUS cops which leads to a DANGEROUS climax,” Ram Gopal Varma tweeted yesterday.

If at all you got distracted by the cringeworthy poster of the film which tells us that it is  “India’s first lesbian crime/action film”, then please just read the first few words of Varma’s tweet and you’ll know why it has irked social media.

Varma believes in the concept that “bad experiences with men” are enough to make women “passionately” fall for other women. Trust Bollywood to take the conversation on sexuality back by centuries. How do production houses and financiers even greenlight such projects? Does no one who works on such movies – actors, production crew, etc., find them regressive and problematic? Or does their desperation (justified in such testing times) simply keep them from voicing their opinion and carry on with their heads down?

Representation of same-sex love and the LGBTQIA+ community in commercial Hindi films has been problematic ever since one can remember. Be it caricaturisation of gay individuals in films like Dostana, Golmaal 2, blatant homophobia of Kal Ho Na Ho being sold to us as comedy, to pushing a person sexual identity in a corner out of caution in films like Kapoor and Sons. Oh, and there was this 2004 film called Girlfriend which almost reduces a woman’s lesbian identity to a mental disorder.

Films are said to mirror our reality to an extent. Sadly, there are people in our society, who force their loved ones into conversion therapy or physically and sexually abuse them, because they think that sexuality is something that can be reversed. It is the same ilk that will indeed believe that a bad experience with the opposite gender can “turn” a person to homosexual.

Homosexuality is not an alternative option or any person’s last resort, you cannot choose your sexual orientation. Our sexuality comes to us naturally, and guess what? It is subjective to fluidity. A person who may identify as straight today, may come out as gay or lesbian in the near or distant future. You’ll see the outcome give them the space to open up about themselves, you’ll never witness their journey.

What Varma and those who believe in such stereotypes need to do is to talk to more people from the community, listen to their experiences,  and ask them how stigmas and depiction of the community harm them and their well-being. Dangerous isn’t some harmless action/thriller that you can binge on mindlessly. If Varma’s tweet is anything to go by, it propagates a false narrative that many may believe to be true, and thus puts several at risk of discrimination, hatred, trivialisation and aggression. The LGBT community needs to demand a screening of this film before its release so that they can assess if any legal action needs to be taken to ensure that we do not return to the dark ages, from which we have barely emerged, when it comes to dealing with homophobia.

The views expressed are the author’s own.