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Kiss, but don’t tell

Is lip-locking between Ayushmaan & Jitendra in Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan an indication that PDA for the LGBTQ is an accepted norm? Not yet!

Kiss, but don’t tell


Manpriya Singh

When did you decide to be gay? questions a stereotypical homophobic in the trailer of the recently released Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan. As the film opened to applauding and also amused audience while amassing Rs 34 crore at the box office by first weekend, it also put the spotlight on a situation that can truly be called a luxury for the LGBTQ community. To own up to your sexual orientation is one thing, but publicly display affection for your partner quite another.

“We are a long way from same sex couples holding hands in the malls, at cafés or at public parks,” in 2018, post the decriminalization of Section 377, one of the filmmakers had cast his doubt on whether social acceptance will follow legal status. “Now, at least the police won’t be able to harass us.”

A couple of years later, the short and sweet peck on the lips between Ayushmaan Khurrana and his ‘lad’ love Jitendra Kumar makes it to not just to cinema halls not just with a UA certificate but even the trailers. A long feat for an industry that in the sixties showcased two daffodils meeting in the name of a kiss as the hero and heroine relegated behind the tree. Since then not just the scenes but, even the audience have both come of age. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of PDA by same gender couples. There was just a hint of Fawad Khan being gay in Kapoor and Sons. Could he be sitting in his sweetheart’s lap during a song sequence? Niharika, a Chandigarh-based married trans girl, says, “That is the reason the third gender communities are coming out so strong. Because it is only amidst like-minded people we feel truly accepted. Legal as it might be, it’s still not acceptable for us to hold hands.”

The dark side

Let alone on real life streets, affection between same gender couples even on celluloid has often been relegated to four walls and darker corners and not really placed in either ordinary or cheerful context. Be it the scenes between Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das in Deepa Mehta’s Fire or Saqib Saleem and Randeep Hooda in Bombay Talkies, the passionate scenes made it to public debates but not really the public domain. “What unsettles me is that every time gays or lesbians are portrayed onscreen, it’s always classified as a dark, bold or brave cinema with bedroom scenes that depict troubled lovers. When did we last see a mainstream feature film, with two boys who are happy, normal and cheerful?” Iqra Hadid, a trans girl and a hospitality graduate from Rayat Bahra University, questions some of the unintentional biases that LGBTQ community faces. “To be treated normally and equally is all that we crave.”

Talk of if she’s ever seen two gays cozying up in public and she says, “Thought it’s not common, but it’s also not uncommon in few parts of India. I was yet to transition into a girl when I met a guy in Pune. He held my hand and it was normal for people around. But in Punjab and Himachal? Never. We are long way from getting there?”


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