Gujarati Film on Homosexuality, a Threat to National Unity?
When KR Devmani, a former Ayurvedic doctor from Ahmedabad, decided to make a film on homosexuality, he had expected smooth sailing. Especially because the Censor Board had given his film titled titled Meghdhanushya-The Colour of Life, a clean chit. But when he tried to make it tax free, the Gujarat government rejected his plea twice, saying that homosexuality is still seen as a ‘social evil’ by many. The State government challenged a Gujarat HC ruling which struck down the denial of tax exemption to the film. And now, the Supreme Court too has agreed to examine the state government’s plea, thereby shelving the film’s well deserved tax-free release for the time being. Devmani expresses his outrage and apathy regarding the perception of homosexuals in India, in this video.
The Gujarat government grants 100 percent exemption from entertainment tax to all Gujarati colour films produced after April 1, 1997. This relief, however, excludes films depicting evil customs, blind faith, sati, dowry and such ‘social evils’ and those ‘against national unity’. But the State Tax Commissioner was of the opinion that Devmani’s film about the feelings of a homosexual individual will send a message that Gujarat is endorsing and encouraging homosexuality, and thus create friction in society. He also added that ‘no decent family’ can watch the movie. The film however, doesn’t have a single scene that would make for uncomfortable family viewing, in terms of graphic visuals or obscenity. No wonder the Censor Board cleared it in the first place.
Meghdhanushya-The Colour of Life tells us the story of someone’s existence. If you come to watch this movie without your prejudice and belief, you will definitely realise the hidden pain inside a homosexual’s heart.
– Dr KR Devmani (Filmmaker)
As absurd as it all may seem, the Gujarat government even asked Devmani to drop words like ‘gay’, ‘homosexual’ and ‘abortion’ from his film, that essentially portray the prejudices against these very words in society today. Meghdhanushya chronicles the life of its protagonist Tanmay, and depicts the biases he had to deal with as a gay child, adult and then, as an old man.
Even though mainstream films show homosexual characters, they usually just poke fun and move on. We don’t stop to think about the feelings of a homosexual. It is sad that we make jokes about someone’s existence and feelings.
– Dr KR Devmani (Filmmaker)
Against all odds however, Devmani’s film got a strong push from Manvendra Singh Gohil, the Prince of Rajpipla, Gujarat. He’s probably the only blue-blooded homosexual to have ever come out of the closet, and proudly so. In fact his royal lineage made it even harder for him to accept his sexuality, and declare the same to the world. In the video below, he narrates the story of how he dealt with the trauma of being ostracised by his own mother.
It took him thirty years of internal struggle before he dedicated his life to gay rights activism. Prince Manvendra is the only Indian to have appeared twice on the Oprah Winfrey Show, and has Grand Marshalled pride parades in Stockholm and Sao Paolo.
Since the Supreme Court could mull over the subject for years, Devmani has decided to take action quickly. He told The Quint that if the court seems to take longer than a few months on the issue, he will go right ahead and release the film anyway, since he has the approval of the censor board already. He also feels that both, regional and national audiences are ready to talk about the taboo subject of homosexuality. What he is absolutely convinced about though is that even if they’re not ready, we can’t ignore the issue or turn away from it anymore.
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