Video Editor: Deepthi Ramdas
Senior Editor: Shelly Walia
Serendipity, not the internet, brought together a filmmaker and a writer almost three decades ago on Mumbai's Valoka bridge. For Sridhar Rangayan and Saagar Gupta, there has been no looking back since then.
Now, in their 50s, and together for 27 years, the duo continues to tell their 'rare' love story with every bit of 'pride.'
"We met in 1994 on 8 December, I think so, right? We met on the streets. Because at that time, there were absolutely no dating apps, the internet was not there. Or had it just come? I don't think the internet was there at that time. Basically, the only way to meet other people was when we 'cruise' each other. 'Cruising' means when you pass each other on the streets, give each other looks, and try to strike up some conversation. So, similarly, I saw him and I crossed over and asked, "Do you have a light?" for my cigarette. That's the way people met in those times."Sridhar Rangayan, Filmmaker to The Quint
"What was your first impression of me," asks Gupta, a writer and producer, as the couple settles in front of the camera in their living room.
"My first impression was: there's this cute guy walking on the other side of the street and maybe he is good enough for a one-night stand?"
"You were on the other side of the street and I saw a very happy person, dancing around, jumping on the streets. I said, who is this person? So, I just felt that, maybe, you were really happy about something, so I felt a bit happy for you at the moment. The next moment, you were in front of me."
Dating in the 90s
With the reading down of Section 377 in September 2018, India has become more accepting of same-sex couples. But dating in the 90s was not very easy for Rangayan and Gupta.
Ragayan says that they took it one day at a time. Gupta then asks his partner what made him realise that he was "the one."
"We kind of took it one day at a time, right? I would come to where you are working every day to have lunch probably, during your time off from your work. Then you would come home and we would spend so much time together. I think what we did was, we were talking so much. We talked about our lives, about our interests, about our plans. We dreamt, remember, that together we are going to win an Oscar someday. And we still are going to do that someday, together. I think that's what kept us going. Talking to each other, communicating with each other."
Most Cherished Milestone
"If you are to mention only one special moment with me, which would that be," asks Rangayan, joking that this was a question he always wanted to ask his partner.
"We had our arguments, fights, like any other couple, but we have had lots of happy memories and moments. So, it will be difficult to pinpoint one. But if you insist, then yes – celebrating our 25th anniversary together. That was a wonderful, wonderful moment, which both of us are going to cherish for a long time," says Gupta.
To the People Who React
Answering Rangayan's question on how people react when Gupta tells them he's been together with another man for 27 years, he says:
"Frankly speaking, Sridhar, you also know, I also know, it doesn't matter. For those who matter, they are already with us on this journey. With their blessings, love, and support. So, what the world thinks doesn't matter."
They both acknowledge that they have been "extremely lucky" as their families get along with each other.
"Your family, my family, they know each other, they have met each other and they bond really well. So, there's no question of challenges on that front. I think we were a lucky lot there," Gupta adds.
The Secret to A Long-Term Relationship
And, what's their secret to a long-term relationship?
They are like every other couple, they say, adding that giving each other the space and cooking together has kept them together for 27 years, and that they will do for another 25 years at least, they add.
"I really think that giving each other space, and time – away from each other, giving each other individual time – is necessary. But I think what has kept together is that we work together, we also cook and eat together. We both love cooking. I make my South Indian food and you make your special dishes. I think we cook together, we eat together. We always have our dinner together."
And, what's the one song they would dedicate to each other?
"'At This Very Moment'. But I still think our favourite song is 'Chura Liya Hai...'," they sing together.
(This story was first published on 13 February 2022. It has been republished from The Quint’s archives to mark Valentine's Day.)