Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, the latest Bollywood film exploring a lesbian love story, starring Sonam Kapoor, Anil Kapoor and Rajkummar Rao in prominent roles, has been grabbing eyeballs and for the right reasons. As progressive as we think we are, even today not many parents are ready to come to terms with their child’s sexuality, something Suchandra Das Mukherjee also faced. A photographer and independent filmmaker, Suchandra married her partner Sreemoyee Mukherjee in a beautiful Bengali wedding in December 2015. Express Parenting got in touch with Suchandra to know more about how her family reacted to her sexuality. Here are excerpts from the interview:
What challenges did you face when you told your parents about your sexuality?
My identity has always been that of a cisgendered woman, so there wasn’t really any problem with that. However, my orientation was a different story altogether. When I finally told my parents of my orientation, that I am a homosexual woman, they took time to come to terms with it. My father asked me questions to understand if this was a passing phase or is this who I am. I explained to him that I have always been like this.
It was different for my partner though as she has always been androgynous in her identity. She had to often listen to lectures about how girls should behave. Not from parents though, but mostly relatives.
What is that one thing that you would have expected your parents to understand, as a child?
That I am different from others, though I appear as any other regular girl child. My perspective of the world and the relationships are the same as theirs but yet I am different. That I look up to them and wish they would accept me as I am.
What advice would you like to give parents for handling a situation, where the child is grappling with gender identity and sexuality? What kind of environment should they create at home?
Gender identity and sexual orientation are two very different things. Whichever one a child is grappling with, I would request the parents to tell the child it is not his/her fault and accept it as natural. They would try to understand what the child is going through. They should do a thorough research if they are not familiar with the concept, consult an authorised psychologist to analyse the situation and make the child feel accepted. I request the parents to not be their child’s bully.
What kind of dialogue do you think movies like Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga can initiate?
As far as the trailer reveals, the movie is about the sexual orientation of a girl who has a very loving, but conservative family. It is extremely important to include homosexuality in the narrative as it would gradually build awareness and acceptance in the society. It is important to see how the parents respond to their daughter’s sexual orientation after the initial shock, as it shall have a tremendous impact on the audience. Earlier, we have seen sensitive male homosexual portrayals such as Arvind Swamy’s in Dear Dad or Fawad Khan in Kapoor and Sons. But rarely so, in the case of mainstream female homosexual characters. Dedh Ishqiya or Fire can both be termed as non-commercial movies.