Celebrating All That Is Queer
The QFest organized at The Hive by Shobhna S. Kumar, Founder of Queer Ink, on Sunday, 13th September 2015, was a day spent celebrating the LGBT community. But it wasn’t an easy start says, Shobhna Kumar, “Organizing such events meant talking to venue owners and managers who many a times were homophobic and denied use of their venue. The Hive then approached us with an offer to collaborate on one Sunday of every month that was dedicated for a Queer Festival, which could have anything to do with queer issues and lives. The first QFest was organized in October 2014 and since then has seen a curated set of screenings, theater, workshops, discussions, etc. that allows the mainstream and LGBT communities to mingle and participate in conversations that otherwise would not have been allowed.” Having completed a year, the QFest edition #12 had some fabulous events lined up for the day.
The QFest event kicked off with an emotional screening of Dunno Y…Na Jaane Kyun directed by Sanjay Sharma. The film features Kapil Sharma and Yuvraaj Parashar sharing screen space with renowned names like Zeenat Aman, Kabir Bedi, and Helen. The best part of this film was that even though it dealt with the theme of homosexuality, the story seamlessly blended other issues as well. The film went on to be well-recognized worldwide and was screened at various festivals and countries including Germany. Dunno Y… is said to have brought the subject of homosexuality into mainstream cinema. But the team of the film had to go through tough times to get where they are. “We faced a lot of problems, there were many issues with the Censor who were all set to ban the film. We were also getting threat letters and the government was not supportive. In fact, there used to be protest rallies under my house,” says Kapil Sharma. Yuvraaj Parashar who received acclaim from the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra Chhagan Bhujbal, faced issues from his own family, “My family stopped talking to me for about a year. In fact, my father initiated legal action to disown me. They were scandalized on seeing the posters of the movie. It was a difficult time, even Zeenatji spoke to my father. Eventually everything got sorted with my family,” the actor says getting a little emotional.
After four years of waiting, they are back with Dunno Y 2… Life Is a Moment, (the sequel to Dunno Y…Na Jaane Kyun), that has a completely different story line. The cast (with additional members) and the theme of homosexuality travels to Norway in this film. “The second part is more like a celebration of love. And, plus we wanted to have a happy ending this time,” says Kapil Sharma. The story of Dunno Y… has touched many lives and Kapil shares one such incident, “My friend called me and said that he was going through a lot of problems with his father who couldn’t deal with his son being gay. He was on the verge of committing suicide, but a little before that he watched the trailer of Dunno Y 2, which made him laugh and he apparently delayed his plans of suicide and I hope those plans are never realized.”
Talking about movies concerning homosexuality and the LGBT community, Yuvraaj Parashar says that he has been asked multiple times, “Are you not scared of playing a gay? But if an actor were to play an underworld don, the same question would not be asked. I feel extremely proud to portray a gay character.” Both the actors agree that The QFest is an amazing platform for the LGBT community to come together and just be themselves. And they hope that this won’t be restricted to the boundaries of The Hive, but go well beyond it.
Later in the day, the QFest screened three short movies by Pradipta Ray, a well-known faculty member of NID and a proud member of the LGBT community. Her first short film, Raat Baaki (The Night is Young) won a Riyad Wadia Award for Best Emerging Indian Filmmaker. A beautifully made film, which in a mere span of 8 minutes artistically portrays sexuality, discrimination of the LGBT community, and humanity with a touch of humor. The power-packed dialogue from the movie, “I am gay, not desperate” sums it all up.
Her second film Eidi (The Gift), deals with a closet gay man who returns to his hometown Kolkata where he reunites with his close friend, a transgender activist. The short movie beautifully shows the main character confronting his demons. The film is deeply rooted in culture and religion and is marvelously realistic. In fact, Pradipta also introduced the audience to her close friend on whom the main character (of the film) was based on. Each of Pradipta’s films showed intimate scenes which were aesthetically portrayed. When asked about the treatment, Pradipta explains, “It has a lot to do with your own point of view. If you see sex and the naked body for its artistic and aesthetic appeal it will never be vulgar. There is nothing wrong in being turned on, if you are not honest about it, it will appear vulgar.”
Her third and final screening, The Guy Next Door, is a goosebump-raiser. This could perhaps be the first movie, which revolves around homosexuality, but actually falls under the ‘horror’ genre. With this Pardipta does not just bring homosexuality into the mainstream but, for the lack of a better word, normalizes homosexuality. By the end of the film you would want to know if it was all an illusion or an actual ghost, a question that was asked a number of times, but Pradipta chose to keep mum and kept the mystery alive.
The day continued with other incredible sessions like QConversations, where people opened up about topics that they would otherwise shy away from. Rainbow Mic, another session saw some amazing talents performing. Shobhna Kumar who curates the event firmly believes in “generating and garnering visibility for India specific content of sexuality and gender issues related to the queerness of lives (fact or fiction)”. “For the last year, I have curated screenings in English and Indian Regional languages, author readings, etc. based on whoever wanted to collaborate with Queer Ink.” The Qfest along with being fun has known to impact people’s lives, “My favorite part at every QFest is the personal connections I make with people who tell me how the fest has enriched their lives or brought in a new perspective or helped change their mind about the LGBT communities in India,” adds Shobhna.
So, come and get a fresh perspective at the QFest (The QFest is held on the 2nd Sunday of every month at The Hive) and meet some of the coolest people at this gathering. Awareness about the LGBT community, artistic movies, colorful conversations, incredible people and much, much more is what the QFest has to offer.
Photo Credit: Samiksha Borikar/ The HIVE
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