Filmmaker Onir on Thursday shared that big names in Bollywood are still apprehensive about playing a homosexual man in a mainstream film. The My Brother Nikhil director was speaking at FICCI Frames 2019.
The filmmaker shared, “I really feel that a film with LGBTQ characters can get a mainstream release. But there are some really good actors especially men who are still insecure about playing homosexual characters. I have had many narrations with these mainstream male actors and they refused it. While they are not direct about it, you kind of sense a wall. The fear of what it can become still holds them back. And this is why I really have a lot of respect for all those actors who say yes to these roles.”
Writer Gazal Dhaliwal added, “I know it is commerce at the end of the day. But I would really appeal to all the A-list male actors to take up a homosexual role. I understand that the masculine ego is really fragile but for once just leave that aside. Take the challenge and enjoy this new character.”
The discussion titled ‘Celebrating rainbow: The seven shades of content’ also had filmmakers Sridhar Rangyan, Hansal Mehta, and actor Shabana Azmi on the panel. It was moderated by journalist Priyanka Sinha Jha.
The panellists spoke about the changes the industry is seeing in the portrayal of LGBTQ characters. Onir, who has helmed acclaimed films like I Am, Shab, Bas Ek Pal among others, spoke about how he is legally empowered after the court’s decision to decriminalise homosexuality.
Onir said, “I remember I was once asked to cut 21 minutes off a 24-minute short film that I had made. But if something like this happens now, I can at least fight legally. It is actually strange that we are going backwards for I remember My Brother Nikhil was cleared with a U certification.”