Badhaai Do Plot Discusses Lavender Marriage But Does It Normalise Same-Sex Relationships?

social comedies, 7 Bhumi Pednekar Films
Badhaai Do trailer has been highly appreciated for the engaging hilarity it promises. The movie features actors RajKummar Rao and Bhumi Pednekar as gay and lesbian characters in a light-hearted comedy film where they marry each other to get their families off their backs. Badhaai Do plot discuss this concept of Lavender Marriage but is it really something we need to normalise same-sex relationships?

RajKummar Rao and Bhumi Pednekar-starrer Badhaai Do trailer released recently and has been receiving positive feedback for its engaging story about same-sex relationships. Badhaai Do plot revolves around two gay people who get married in order to satisfy their families’ expectations and continue to live as roommates while being involved with their respective love interests. The film has adopted the concept of Lavender marriage in order to represent same-sex relationships.

What is Lavender Marriage?

Lavender Marriage is a concept which dates back to 20th century Hollywood, even before World War II, when actors of LGBTQ community could not reveal their sexual identities and resorted to marry straight people in order to comply with the societal expectations as well as stigma around same-sex relationships so that they could have a stable film career.

This ‘act of convenience’, as stated by Mental Health Counsellor Arouba Kabir in conversation with Indian Express, “allows an individual to be themselves yet protect their personal lives from public speculation.” Many famous Hollywood actors in 20th-century Hollywood were claimed to be in Lavender Marriages as a cover up of their gay identities including Rudolph Valentino and Natacha Rambova. While Valentino was rumoured to be bisexual, there were similar claims that Rambova was also involved in a lesbian relationship.

Similarly, actors Barbara Stanwyk and Robert Taylor were ordered by the MGM to get married to preserve their reputation and careers as Hollywood stars when speculations about their respective same-sex relationships started erupting. The couple got married in 1939, however, Taylor refused to kiss Stanwyk and went back to his mother’s home after the wedding processions.

Badhaai Do plot promises an engaging comedy while touching an important societal issue with the concept of Lavender Marriage, but is it something that needs to be presented at a time when the Queer community is fighting to normalise their identities in the society?

While it is commendable that Bollywood is trying to incorporate more stories related to the LGBTQ communities for the society to reflect on the stigma around them, it is also important that it features them in a way that does not hamper the process acceptance of their identities in the society.

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Kabir said that concepts like Lavender Marriage are a step towards progressive societies and spreading awareness about them can be helpful. While this maybe true, such concepts may also facilitate the stigma around same-sex marriage and relationships.

Many queer people have to hide their gender as well as sexual preferences from the society as well as society in order to be deemed as ‘acceptable’. While Lavender Marriage can work as a ‘marriage of convenience’ so that they can continue to live their queer life, the practice is a compliance to the societal stigma around same-sex relationships as they force themselves into heterosexual marriages and remain closeted about their identities forever.

Do we really need such concepts of marriage at a time when we are trying to normalise same-sex relationships? Let us know your views in the comments.

Views expressed by the author are their own.