Rainbow Rishta, a groundbreaking six-part documentary series helmed by director Jaydeep Sarkar, along with story directors Hridaye A. Nagpal and Shubhra Chatterji, offers an unfiltered and authentic glimpse into the diverse lives of LGBTQIA+ individuals. Spanning across Mumbai, Delhi, Assam, and Manipur, these unscripted episodes weave together the real-life narratives of individuals like Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju, Daniella Mendonca, Ayushmaan (aka Lush Monsoon), Aneez Saikia, Sanam Choudhary, Soham Sengupta, Suresh Ramdas, and Sadam Hanjabam. Each episode becomes a captivating and candid portal into their unique journeys.
Speaking with SheThePeople, the director and cast of Rainbow Rishta delve into the inspiration behind the show. The discussion touches on challenges faced by the LGBTQIA+ community and the transformative impact of sharing these narratives on a global platform.
Jaydeep Sarkar, the series director, shed light on the choice of the documentary format, which contributes to why audiences perceive it as more relatable and innovative. He expressed, "I'm a huge fan of realism in cinema, inspired by European classics like The Bicycle Thief and Pather Panchali. Literature, for me, is about portraying realism. "
In today's world, where people are accustomed to shooting themselves and creating constant reels, the camera's gaze is always present. So, I found it interesting to tell stories without embellishments, keeping them as raw as possible. This was an exciting approach for me.
He added how mainstreaming queer narratives and portraying them on a grand scale, be it poignant, humorous, or provocative, and incorporating such diversity into the show along with the powerful music, has been incredibly inspiring for him.
As a filmmaker belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community, getting the opportunity to share our stories with such a unique spirit is truly a celebration.
Why Showing Real Stories Mattered Most
The six onscreen stories reflect the different challenges each character faces, and Daniella Mendonca, when asked about her being resilient throughout every challenging situation, which she also mentions in the show, highlighted the necessity of persisting through difficulties.
She stresses the importance of not giving up on life, fighting for one's existence, and returning stronger. Encouraging the queer community, Mendonca advises reaching out for help during challenging moments, embracing vulnerability, and seeking assistance. According to her, seeking help is the initial step towards resilience and success.
It is okay to cry, it's okay to be vulnerable, and it is okay to seek help. And after you've seen that help, after you find out, you will realise that you can do that, and you will be able to come back and strive and slay out there. But the only thing is that you need to realise that I need help. And you need to take the first step towards that help.
In today's world, there's substantial support for the queer community, and she encourages individuals to take that crucial first step in finding solutions together.
Not only is seeking help from outside crucial, but accepting oneself and allowing time for understanding one's desires is also vital. Ayushman, also known as drag queen Lush Monsoon, sheds light on this aspect and offers advice to those facing challenges in accepting themselves.
I would say to always take it one day at a time because the journey to self-acceptance doesn't happen in a day; it's something you have to do every single day. Remind yourself that you're doing okay and that you are everything you wanted to be. It's a journey everyone has to take—slowly, you start accepting yourself. Appreciate a little more of yourself every day. Don't get overwhelmed; you can't conquer the whole world suddenly.
He added, "Find your allies, the people you can be yourself in front of, and gradually, you will get there." He recalled how, as a young kid, Ayushmaan could have never imagined being on the huge platforms he's been able to grace. Looking back, those moments felt incomparable, but slowly, he was able to achieve that.
Positive Reflections After The Show
Ayushmaan also acknowledged the challenge of participating in the show while his parents remained unaware of his coming out. He emphasises the enormity of signing up for something historic, especially on a platform like Amazon Prime. It revealed that the inability to share his fears and anxieties about going on a date or exposing himself on such a significant platform was difficult. However, he expressed gratitude for supportive friends who helped shoulder the burden. He disclosed that he came out to his parents about his sexuality after the show aired, attributing positive changes in their relationship to the process the show put him through.
After the show, Mendonca experienced a positive outlook too. She highlighted that relatives who didn't attend her wedding would have witnessed it on the OTT platform, even if it was done "chupke chupke". Reflecting on her own prolonged journey to self-acceptance spanning 23 years, she finds it unreasonable to expect immediate acceptance from parents or relatives.
Most Memorable Moment
Recognising the analogous process her parents and relatives are going through, Mendonca advocates patience in fostering their understanding and eventual acceptance.
Concluding the conversation, Sarkar shared one of the most memorable moments from the sets—Daniella's wedding.
My partner and I were both there. The whole crew, even the people who did not work on Daniela's story, were there; it really felt so special. It didn't feel like we were at work. We were the last people to leave the hall, and it was just so amazing. And I can't thank the family enough for welcoming us and making us feel part of their speciality. That is a moment that always makes me choke up. You know, what have I done to deserve to be in such a special moment and have the privilege of being able to tell that story? That was a very humbling moment.
Suggested Reading: Rainbow Rishta Review: Honest Exploration Of Longing In Queer Love