‘Homophobia is most archaic and regressive’
17 July 2009, 12:04am IST
Amol Palekar’s acclaimed films in Hindi, Marathi and English Daayra, Anaahat and Thaang (Quest) have focused on the stark subject of non-mainstream sexuality in India. His unconventional stance has made some viewers cringe and prompted some to ponder. He speaks to Ratnottama Sengupta :
What inspired you to make three films exploring the different definitions of sexuality?
In our society sexuality is taboo. If ever we talk about it, we avoid serious discussion on sexual orientation, preferences and choices. This closeted approach keeps us from educating ourselves or from knowing the existing reality. Ignorance, prejudices and phobias flourish then, and as film-maker i feel the need to address them. That’s how i did Daayra (1996), Anaahat (2003) and Thaang/Quest (2006). They provoked viewers to think of a transgender existence, a woman’s sexual desires or genuineness of a gay relationship. As they come out of the theatre they feel compelled to adopt the humanitarian angle. This changed perspective is a tiny ripple i triggered through my films.
How do you react to the decriminalisation of homosexuality?
The judgement in the Naz Foundation case is a path-breaking decision that all should welcome wholeheartedly. This proclamation of equality in treatment will help the marginalised sections of our society achieve freedom in various walks of life. Non-discrimination in employment, availability of home loans and healthcare insurance in same sex partnerships, changed definitions of family for adoption laws are a few instances where social and legal sanction to homosexuality will help. We are certainly marching towards more tolerant and sensitive life.
What do you say to those opposing the judgement?
The belief that non-procreative sex is a perversion and isn’t sanctioned by any religion generates bias against homosexuality. It is then considered a social sin and a criminal act. But homophobia is most archaic and regressive. There’s no scientific basis for the majority claim that same-sex relationships are ‘unnatural’. I’m all for a compassionate social mind that offers sanctity and respect to gay and lesbian bonds.
Given a choice, would you want your child to be a eunuch, or homosexual?
This question itself projects a hang-up suffered by most of us. It also equates being a eunuch or hijra with homosexuality. Eunuch by birth is a sad accident that no parent will wish for, just as no one desires a child with physical handicap. However, how we accommodate eunuchs child or adult will reflect our maturity. Many eunuchs are victims of evil social and religious practices that further perpetrate their exploitation and roles. I’ll have no problem whatsoever if my child is gay. I’ll still be a very proud father of a wonderful human being.