Onir, who is credited with films like My Brother Nikhil and I Am, on Tuesday said he is constantly told by studios and producers to do away with LGBTQ narratives, which is an irony as lot of industry members are from the community.
“At a personal level, no one gives a damn because a huge section of the industry belong to the community but you don’t find that forthright support come in. So, personally, I am loved and accepted but when it comes to my work, I face a lot of hurdles.
“I have been talking to big studios and other big producers for years and they have told me, ‘Onir, we like the films you make. But don’t go LGBT way’,” Onir said, adding he doesn’t see these people changing despite the historic Supreme Court verdict against Section 377.
More than a month ago, the SC scrapped the archaic ban on gay sex in a landmark judgment.
“I don’t think things are going to change overnight. A little bit will happen in the web space. But look at our population and our industry, the LGBTQ representation is few and far between. How many films with LGBTQ protagonists did you see in 2018? That will be your answer. And we are the largest film producing country in the world,” Onir said.
The filmmaker shed light on the difficulties a film with an LGBTQ protagonist goes through at every stage before it sees the light of the day.
“We don’t get support. It has to come from every section. After you get a good producer, you need someone to put extra efforts to distribute the film and then exhibitor to price it differently and at the right shows. For that, the exhibitor has to be someone who cares how your film does.
“When our film (I Am) won the National Award for Best Hindi film and some big film won the Best Special Effects. Next day in papers that movie was given a full page cover and our film was mentioned in one corner on the third page. Unless you have the right people backing, how will your film reach the audience? LGBTQ is anyway everyone’s last priority,” the director said.
Onir’s complaint is not only with the producers and exhibitors. He also pointed out how a lot of writers lack sensitivity and empathy to conceive such stories.
“I was talking to a writer a few days ago and he told me he wants to do something with LGBTQ and for that, first, he wanted to talk to me to understand them better. I told him he made me feel like an evolved person, that I can understand straight people but he can’t understand people from LGBTQ community. You just need basic sensitivity. I don’t understand how we talk about LGBTQ people as ‘them’. That’s the discrimination we need to do away with,” Onir said.