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Memories pierce the heart: Homoeroticism, Bollywood style.

June 19, 2020 OVIYA EZHILVANAN 0 Comments

Memories pierce the heart: Homoeroticism, Bollywood style.

Compiled by Oviya. E

Empower people has come up with another thought-provoking webinar. This webinar takes us through a journey where we see a different perspective of the normalities. The speaker of the day is Mr. Raj Rao, who is a writer, poet, academician, and queer activist. His notable works are hostel room 131; Madame, give me my sex, and the Boyfriend. Badal Thakker, an architect and an activist, is our panelist and Hridaya Ajgaonkar hosts the webinar.

Mr. Raj Rao discusses his article, which was published in the Queer Asian Cinema. He explains his perspective with the help of Amitabh Bachchan’s songs of the 1970s and 1980s.

He introduces a few critics who criticize and rise ideologies about gay films and about Queer society. Alexander Doty, in his work, Making things perfectly clear, has mentioned that “mainstream films arrest to straight audiences have greater potent for clear readings that gay films arrest to a gay audience.” Shohini Gosh, in her Monograph on film “fire”, quotes that in Hindi cinema, the vocabulary used for defining or portraying friendship and love often overlap. Mr.Rao mentions Eve Sedgwick, a queer theorist.

Renee Gerrard, a critic, has given insights on Gender Asymmetry and the Erotic triangle. His theory is that “in any erotic rivalry, the bond that links both the rivals is as potent as the bond that links either o the two rivals to their beloved. The bond of rivalry and love differently as they are experienced is equally powerful and in many senses the equivalent of each other.

Mr. Rao highlights the fact that in Hindi cinema, touch is gender-neutral and not gender-specific. This is not portrayed as sexual to the mainstream audience but it makes an impact on the queer community.

Mr.Rao uses Bachchan’s film songs in his presentation to bring to light, how homosexuality thrives in covert yet recognized places in Indian culture. The main reason behind highlighting Amitabh Bachchan is that he changed the grammar of Hindi Cinema. He brought in Action films apart from romantic films. His films often redefine male bonding.

The first song he presents is “Diye jalte hai” from the film “Namak Haram”. This song picturizes the cross-class friendship between Amitabh Bachchan and Rajesh Khanna. Mr.Rao puts forth his ideology that the lyrics of this song could easily be used for a song describing the love between a man and a woman.

The next song he quotes is “Yaari hai imaan mera” from the film “zanjeer”. He highlights the use of the word “Yaar”. The mainstream and queer audience perceives the picturization of the affection shown between Pran and Amitabh Bachchan differently.

The lyrics are as follows:

Yaari Hai Meri Imaan Mera Yaar Meri Zindagi
Yaar Ho Bando Se Ye Oh
Yaar Ho Bando Se Ye Sabse Badi Hai Bandagi
Yaari Hai!
Yaari Hai Meri Imaan Mera Yaar Meri Zindagi

“Bane chahe Dushman” from the film “Dostana” is the next song described by Mr.Rao. He feels that no other love song can have better romantic lyrics than those belonging to this song. Those lyrics are as follows:

Pata koyi poochhe
To kehte hain hum
Ke ek duje ke dil me rehte
Hain hum rehte hain hum

Such songs, when staged before the audience in the west, are considered as songs that portray homosexual friendship.

In the song, “Mere dost Kissa yeh kya ho Gaya”, characters Vijay and Ravi are rivals yet they portray a lot of passion among them. This is the best example of the love triangle. Reduced importance is given to the heroine which is an outcome of the patriarchal community that still strive in our country.

Mr.Badal contributes many of his ideologies about the queer community. He is an avid reader of the queer community. He has read Mr.Rao’s BomGay and he appreciates its uniqueness. He is astonished by Mr.Rao’s perspective of approaching Amitabh Bachchan’s movies. He feels there is no queer space in our society and hence feels that it is important to introduce queer ideologies.

This webinar brings out a very different perspective of Hindi cinema. It is a webinar to be watched by both the mainstream and queer audience.