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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Pink is In

It was a first in the history of Indian cinema. The Nokia 15th Annual Star Screen Award for the Best Couple went to two men,who played a gay couple (albeit fake) in Dostana.

Written by Georgina Maddox |
January 16, 2009 11:27:00 pm

Abhishek Bachchan and John Abraham are the Best Couple at the Nokia 15th Annual Star Screen Awards. That is a first for Bollywood.

It was a first in the history of Indian cinema. The Nokia 15th Annual Star Screen Award for the Best Couple went to two men,who played a gay couple (albeit fake) in Dostana.

John Abraham and Abhishek Bachchan won the golden statuette from under the noses of Aamir Khan and Asin,Aishwarya Rai and Hrithik Roshan,Katrina Kaif and Akshay Kumar,and Kaif and Salman Khan. Interestingly,the award was handed out by the other halves of the two men — actors Rai and Bipasha Basu,who giggled like schoolgirls over their men being called a “couple”,insisting they “don’t mind at all”.

“It is an unexpected award to get,and it feels a bit strange. But I am glad to be here to receive the award,and I do miss Abhishek,especially his chest hair,” joked Abraham,stroking host Sajid Khan’s shaved chest,inciting hoots of laughter.

Amid ribald jokes made by hosts Khan and Shreyas Talpade,much of the evening was painted pink. The two hosts vied for Abraham’s attention,Khan even sporting the famous yellow trunks for a bit,and they even made a few presentations dressed in drag. And,yes,it could’ve been cheesy but it actually was a lot of fun.

Perhaps it is light-hearted banter but nevertheless it makes one wonder — is this the tip of the iceberg? Are things really changing in Bollywood?

“It is an achievement that a film like Dostana is redefining what couple-hood means,” says Malini Dabbas,who works in the non-profit sector on issues of health,gender and sexuality. Vikram of Gay Bombay,a self-funded organisation,says Dostana is an exception but not the rule. “One will always have to deal with stereotypes. It is the spirit in which Dostana was done that is inspiring. Not only did it take up the subject but did it well. I do not expect Bollywood to do a Brokeback Mountain but this comedy is not malicious,” says Vikram.

“Bollywood has to catch up with the prevailing discourses on alternate sexuality. They made a good start with Fire,and now Dostana,” says queer activist Lesley Esteves,who also believes that even though the film invited people to poke fun at stereotypes of gay men,it did so without offending many gay people. “I’m thrilled that Abhishek and John won the best couple,and the style with which the award was bestowed on them was even more exciting. I would love to see two women bag the award someday soon,” says Esteves.

One cannot assume that applause at an award function translates into a gay revolution— yet it is a small step in a homophobic society.

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