‘I Am’ has become the first gay film to triumph in India’s national awards. By bagging the Best Hindi Film trophy at the 59th National Film Awards this year, this film has also marked the emancipation of gay rights and the coming-of-age for Bollywood cinema. No longer is ‘gay’ a taboo word and no longer are such films frowned upon!
Filmmaker Onir is over the clouds since it’s his film that has made the cut. On a personal note, it is a major triumph since the film replicates his own personal journey of a gay man going on to create history at the prestigious National Award ceremony. However, it’s ironic that the film which has been showered with the National Award had to suffer from intolerance from many quarters. ‘I Am’ barely made any money since the government wasn’t very encouraging about letting the film hog any limelight. Onir laments government’s insensitiveness and the dubiousness over Section 377. But at the same time, after this triumph, he is hopeful that such films will now see daylight and also make good money on both box office and through TV satellite rights.
Onir also laments the fact that ‘I Am’ didn’t win any trophy in the Popular Award ceremonies (like the Filmfare). But he credits the good work done by his entire cast & crew to help him document a movie based on the alternate sex. It required lots of guts & confidence to pull this through and Onir did it marvelously.
Onir’s next movie also dabbles in homosexuality. The fact that Onir, himself, is a gay does give him a motivation to showcase their struggle & painful journey through the cinematic medium. Some question whether he wants to take the route trodden on by Bengali filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh (who has depicted the theme of homosexuality in a number of films). Onir, undeterred, accepts the challenge and hopes to eradicate social prejudice against the gay community through correct portrayals of their lives through the medium of celluloid.
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