Why did I choose to make a film on LGBTQ?Danyush Mamik
Growing up, there were many preconceived notions that one’s brains were ingrained with…one of the big ones… “It’s not right to be gay”… “It’s looked down upon by society and people are unwilling to accept it.”
I’m not talking about my parents here, because they are far and away the coolest people around, but about society in general.
As I grew rather hideously into my teens, the notion stuck in my head…I cringed a little whenever I saw two people of the same sex getting even slightly physical with each other [I’m talking here about something even as simple as hand-holding]…that’s how deep the notion was fed in.
As time went by, life got busy and I never delved too deep into the gay community and their problems [Man oh man, aren’t we a preoccupied species!]
Then came 2005 and I remember going for this film with my friends; it was an Oscar-nominated film, Brokeback Mountain. I was slightly wary, but only slightly, because time and maturity had started shedding the preconceived notions that I was fed with. And when I saw two great actors shed all their inhibitions and show the world the stigma and problems that come with being gay…well, like so many around the world, I was moved…it’s not that my mind magically changed or I felt like I needed to stand for the gay community…but it struck a chord; I felt like love cannot be controlled. Over the next decade or so, I saw some friends falling in love with people of the same sex, gay marriage was legalised and celebrities supported it and came out in the open. A friend of mine whom I grew up with recently proclaimed that he was gay, and I remember feeling immense happiness for him. In that moment, after 30 years, the preconceived notion in my head had been abolished…I didn’t cringe, I dint feel wary…I was just happy for him.
Then the news broke, recently, about the Orlando shooting. We discussed it at work the next day; having been in the filmmaking world for the last 12 years, I decided that we needed to pay tribute and send a message to the haters, not limited to the LGBTQ community, but one that would resonate with one and all.
Finally, it’s July 5; I see that the video is live on our YouTube channel – Indian Chronicles…people are loving it, liking it, sharing it…I could not be happier, because in our own small way we would be giving the world a new notion to believe in…that… ‘ LOVE IS THE OLDEST RELIGION’.
A) How stereotypes work in the LGBT community and why people should not stereotype while explaining the realities.
People do not want to delve into the unknown. Unfortunately, the LGBT community is still being shown in one kind of light, and they need some equality. Stereotypical perceptions have existed in our society due to lack of interactions, awareness, or plain disinterest. A lot of beliefs subsist, viz. the members of the LGBT community are not religious; they have a very small chance of leading long and productive lives; lesbians are associated with short hair, wearing baggy clothes and playing sports; and gay men are characterised by flamboyance and effeminacy. Their fictional representations have depicted them as violent, they have often been portrayed as leading dark or depressed lifestyles in movies, and are given unhappy endings. The deeper we dig, the more disheartening it gets.
Cinema is a very powerful medium and digital, more so. People today want to see stories that are real and stories they may be able to connect with; you cannot make fake cinema and escape with it, and we want our audience to stay connected with us.
It is rightly said, “The pen is mightier than the sword,” and we have the platform to initiate a change which may ameliorate the lives of many. “Actions speak louder than words,” is exactly what our musical short film aspires to show. Through one of the mediums that reach the masses and have the ability to influence right and wrong choices, we wanted to ensure that Just Begun reaches out to the people and expresses love.
Myths and stereotypes that lead to beatings and rejections or dehumanise a being need to be dissolved.
We intend to connect with the youth, who believe in liberation and are young, impressionable minds. They need to be educated and guided in the right direction, lest they are led to believe in the existing stereotypes through observational learning. The young India is the future of tomorrow and our hope for change.
B) The message of the film. What does it convey?
The film carries one message within its core — LOVE IS THE OLDEST RELIGION.
Since time immemorial, the LGBTQ have always been a part of our society but rarely have people been vocal about it. If one goes back and revisits our ancestral history and rich culture, one may find a lot of instances and illustrations which can be interpreted as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).
We didn’t want to confuse people with what love stands for. Women are the nurturers and the true depiction of love and devotion. We chose two girls to convey this message and have neither gone aggressive nor too dramatic. We are not taking a stance to be different, either; we are just being calm. We haven’t shown anything in Just Begun that outright screams ‘lesbian’, but yes, it reflects love. The two girls in the short film could be friends, sisters or lovers.
C) The stereotypes that we are trying to break with this movie.
Since childhood, we have been watching the LGBT community being depicted in a certain manner and it has been engraved on our minds, but today, people are supportive and they believe in the freedom of expression. No one wants to be stereotyped, and why should they be?
The LGBTQ community has been always been depicted through their flamboyant clothing, funny walk, and they are often showcased talking with a lisp. But en effet they are as normal and unique as each one of us.
Our films have been mocking homosexuality continually. I have always had these questions in mind:
Why are all fashion designers/makeup artists/hair dressers/dancers gay?
Why are homosexuals shown having a habit of gesturing a lot?
Why are all gay men feminine and why do they love to adorn themselves?
Why do all lesbians have to have short hair and be tomboyish?
How is homosexuality an impact of the western influence?
How is it possible for homosexuality to be ‘cured’?
Is love only between a man and a woman?
I firmly believe that sexual orientation is biological while fashion sense is a personal attribute. Why should fashion only be a woman’s profession and why can’t men cook? We all love to dress well; women aren’t questioned for their hours of grooming sessions, then why men? Some of them can give you a run for your so-called ‘masculinity’. If a woman likes her hair short, it definitely does not become life-altering.
Love is the oldest religion, which binds us all together — families, friends and well-wishers. When we say we believe in equality, it only makes sense if we respect individual choices. As new young filmmakers, it is our moral duty to change the perception about stereotypes. We are the harbingers of art liberation.
Watch the film on our YouTube channel (Indian Chronicles):