Mumbai, March 13 (Calcutta Tube) Gay director Onir is quite upright about his alternative sexual preference and asserts that it didn’t create obstacles in his career. He says that he loves telling stories no one dares to bring on the big screen and that his next will be a political thriller.
‘No, I never faced any obstacle because of my sexual preference. Delhi High Court had declared it as legal and now it’s being debated in the Supreme Court. In India it’s still taken as a crime by the law of the land. One reason to bring it up in my films is it’s a human rights violation,’ he said.
The director got into a sexual assault row with Yuvraj Parashar, who featured in ‘Dunno Y…Na Jaane Kyun’, when the newcomer alleged sexual abuse by the critically-acclaimed director.
The incident notwithstanding, Onir never faced any problems in his career because of his sexual preference.
‘Even a country like Nepal does not have that law any more while a country like India, which used to celebrate all kinds of sexuality, got a Victorian prudish law by the British, but the British themselves don’t have the law any more in their country, but we are still becoming slaves to those laws,’ he added.
In 2009, Delhi High Court decriminalised homosexuality by striking down section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). But the verdict had been challenged in the Supreme Court and the apex body has fixed April 19 for hearing.
Onir wants to explore subjects that titillate the human psyche.
‘I want to tell stories that others are not telling. It would be a bit boring for me to say the same thing that others are saying. For me, it’s very important to make films, which are not regressive. I feel cinema is an extremely powerful tool and it can change or affect one’s thinking without being preachy,’ he said, adding, ‘I am working on a political thriller with the backdrop of Kashmir.’
Onir made his debut as a director with ‘My Brother…Nikhil’ in 2005 and homosexuality was the premise of the movie in which Sanjay Suri appears as a gay. It was followed by ‘Bas Ek Pal’ (2006) and ‘Sorry Bhai!’ (2008).
His next ‘I AM’ is an ultimate example of independent movie as he raised funds for it through social networking site Facebook.
‘We used the social network media to collect funds for the film. We put up a page in Facebook saying if anyone believes in the story, he can be a part of it by giving Rs.1,000 or more and be a co-owner of the film or be a volunteer. The amount could be anything up to lakhs.
‘Around 400 people from 46 cities across the world participated and we raised nearly Rs. 10 million. I am very happy that in one-and-a-half years down the line we have our full film ready,’ said Onir.
Onir maintains that he was able to wrap up his film, which has four stories, pretty fast because he made it independently.
‘It takes time, but in my case it was faster. Today, if you take a script to any corporate or any producer, the process of getting the script approved takes almost a year. Here the film, from conception to release, took one-and-a-half years. We started shooting much after ‘Dhobi Ghat’ started shooting; we are pretty independent, do not have a big production house, so in that regard we wrapped up quite fast,’ said Onir.
Talking about the film, Onir said: ‘There are four stories – one deals with single motherhood; second story is about a Kashmiri Pandit who has gone back home after 20 years and meets a Kashmiri Muslim friend and through their eyes it shows that politics in Kashmir has brought loss for everyone; third is about a sexually abused child survivor; and the fourth is on before and after Article 377 came into being.’
His last film ‘Sorry, Bhai!!’ turned out to be a dud and Onir says that the reason for its failure is that it was released after the Mumbai attack.
(Dibyojyoti Baksi can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)