He inhales abuses and makes us laugh. Here’s why we do not deserve a man like Karan Johar

Dear Karan Johar,

It smells like a different day today. Everybody has been discussing your plain spoken statements in your autobiography. “I always told you he was a gay…”, “Chalo, finally he admitted…”, “He talks like one too…”

Judgments, and more judgments. Judgments, hurtful and uncalled for. Coming from a bunch of blockheads who in their entire lives, have done nothing more than passing judgments.

The first time I saw you was in ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’. I must have been a four or five-year-old kid that time. DDLJ stayed with us, so did you. Today’s self-assured, suited-booted Karan Johar has traveled a few thousand miles from there. With umpteen number of hit films, and rise of a number of present-day stars to your credit, you stand tall as one of the most prominent entertainers India takes pride in. And yet, how ironic! A part of your own countrymen prefers to talk about your sexual preference over your work.

It was not very far ago that ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ embroiled in some serious controversy. I was never sure how perfect the idea of destructive nationalism is, but let it be. I was further never sure how justified the idea of boycotting a piece of art ever is. But then again, let it be. But then, a bunch of fellow folks found something juicy to talk about. “Why did this man cast the Pakistani actor? Something must be cooking between them…” Sigh!

I remember going to a theatre to watch ‘Bombay Velvet‘ . The film was certainly a dud at the box office, but that was the first time that we saw the actor in you. Elated, I discussed your character with my friends, only to be shut up. “That gay?” they giggled.

Which is more sad? That we live in a legislative system that does not allow us to choose our own sexuality? That we are surrounded by insensitive, impolite, impertinent individuals who know not to show respect to one’s personal choice? That we have reached a time wherein we are answerable to the society for our most intimate decisions? For falling in love, making love, talking love? Or the saddest part is that one can’t even talk about his displeasure.

“I get scared of being spotted with any single man now because I think they are going to think that I am sleeping with him. I mean, firstly I have never ever talked about my orientation or sexuality because whether I am heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual, it is my concern. I refuse to talk about it… I have not been brought up to talk about my sex life. I know I am the butt of many jokes, pun intended. I know how my sexuality is discussed. I have become like the poster boy of homosexuality in this country,” you wrote. This breaks my heart. We must be living in a miserable age; a very unkind age. It’s not just you; it is probably every man with a different sexual orientation who is crucified with the rigid, societal norms everyday. It must be taking such a massive toll on one’s self-esteem. Yet, all of you get up, get ready and show up everyday…

And no pretence in accepting this. We have failed you miserably. You have stirred our emotions, made us laugh, made us cry. You’ve explained love, heartbreak, friendship in the most flamboyant manner possible. In return, we have given you judgments that you didn’t call for, names that you didn’t deserve, slangs more hurtful than bullets, and tons of bitterness to start your day with. We scrutinised every move you made, every word you spoke, every time you laughed. “Why is this man not getting married?”

“He’s so rich, he must be having so many means of pleasure,” we whispered. And amidst all these, we forgot that just like any of us, your basic emotional needs were no different.

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On behalf of every man who let you down, sorry. On behalf of every man who has today made you the ‘poster boy of homosexuality’, sorry. Sorry on behalf of ones who fill your Twitter inboxes with hatred every morning, and on behalf of the ones who make it difficult for you after you head home Alone, leaving your glitzy life behind. Sorry on behalf of those who have subjected you to so many judgments.

There will be a day when neither you, nor anyone else will be scared to scream ‘those three words’ out aloud. It will be a world with more grace, love and co-existence.

Till then, Thank You for being the unsuitable boy…

Kapoor & Sons: Caught the plight of homosexuals tenderly and yet made 'coming out' look doable

Kapoor & Sons: Caught the plight of homosexuals tenderly and yet made 'coming out' look doable
Image Source - YouTube

Kapoor & Sons – Since 1921. The house proudly flaunted that to the world, nestled in the greens of Coonoor. No one knew the darkness that was inside, the demons that were individually dealt with. But then, isn’t every family like that?

He inhales abuses and makes us laugh. Here's why we do not deserve a man like Karan Johar

Two years have passed by since this Shakun Batra-directorial, story of a dysfunctional family had come to our lives. However, amongst the various themes that tore apart the family and eventually brought it together, one that truly had the power to transform, was that of homosexuality.

Not many know, that the role played by Fawad Khan, that of family’s elder son, a successful author, was actually offered to many A-listers, who turned it down, eventually leading him to step into the shoes of Rahul. And it was, indeed, a very big step on his part. He was venturing out of his territory, a man who has such a huge female-fan following, and comes from a country with religion as its main running philosophy. He did the role and brought such conviction to it that we were forced to stand up and applaud, his courage, and the beauty with which his character was carved.

He inhales abuses and makes us laugh. Here's why we do not deserve a man like Karan Johar

Since times immemorial, all our memories of gay characters on screen have been that of carelessly effeminate and unimportant roles, which are just there to add a comic element. The stereotype has been high to an extent that often the champions of the same channelise it and promote it, for it is wrapped in the shiny paper of presentation. The biggest example of this was ‘Dostana’, which was an amazing story of friendship, still used homosexuality as humour, as its backdrop. Ironically, it came from the same production house, though nearly eight years before that.

He inhales abuses and makes us laugh. Here's why we do not deserve a man like Karan Johar

But ‘Kapoor & Sons’ begged to differ here. The character here was real, someone who was hiding himself, for the society, his family. There was surreality to the theme of homosexuality here, which had the power to jar us inside out; and that, it did.

Two scenes from the movie specifically hit me. First one is when Sunita (Ratna Patak Shah) finds out that her ideal elder son, whom she adores and is proud of, is not straight. The aftereffects of the same jolt you, because the reaction is just what an Indian mother gives, in any situation that is beyond her control; uncontrollable anger at the offspring, and then uncontrollable guilt, of blaming herself and her upbringing. The scene is filmed so beautifully, that your eyes sting. The way Fawad’s facade falls and his fear is marked across his face, which is then replaced by the anger of hiding himself for all those years, and mother’s dilemma and hurt, it all comes out in a naked and real manner.

He inhales abuses and makes us laugh. Here's why we do not deserve a man like Karan Johar

Another sequence is when Rahul (Fawad Khan) comes back home after the showdown with his mother and the death of his father totally uproots whatever sanity his family possessed. He sits with his mother, with whom his last encounter was one of his coming out, and she asks, hesitatingly, about his partner. A subtle way of expressing acceptance, the way they hold hands, without saying anything, it stays with you.

He inhales abuses and makes us laugh. Here's why we do not deserve a man like Karan Johar

It may not be one masterpiece, but ‘Kapoor & Sons’ will forever remain a favourite for finally breaking the mainstream stereotype of a gay man, in Bollywood. And for that, no matter how many bans, I will forever be waiting for Fawad Khan to come back, and give us more performances; with dare and conviction.

He inhales abuses and makes us laugh. Here's why we do not deserve a man like Karan Johar

An ode to Sridevi, the queen who inspired the queers long before it became mainstream

An ode to Sridevi, the queen who inspired the queers long before it became mainstream
Image Source - Pinterest

“I am a kid from the 90s but still can’t forget those days when, me-myself was not out and proud about my preferences. And inside my own sweet world would dance in front of the mirror on many songs, but majorly on ‘Hawa Hawai’ and ‘Main Teri Dushman, Dushman Tu Mera’. These songs were just not tunes for me, it made me feel exactly what I was; a QUEERby birth”.

He inhales abuses and makes us laugh. Here's why we do not deserve a man like Karan Johar
Image Source - India Forums

The news of the legendary diva Sridevi being no more with us is still hard to believe, as she was part of my and every queer’s childhood memories. While in the late 90s my bunch of friends would idolise a star from the West as their gay icon, me being a full-fledged Bollywood fanatic was in love with Sridevi and she was a diva I used to worship (and will forever). Her golden costume and perfectly done makeup in ‘Hawa Hawai’ made me feel, “Yes! There is someone like me out there who loves bling and all things loud.” Her feather headgear in one of the songs from ‘Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja’, touched my drag Queen‘s soul. One of the lines from her song ‘Hawa Hawai’ which is ‘Soorat Hi Maine Aisi Paayi’ transported me into a world where I thought that there is someone narcissist just like me. Sridevi’s charm was on my mind and the feminine side in me just wanted to be a replica of her.

He inhales abuses and makes us laugh. Here's why we do not deserve a man like Karan Johar
Image Source - Pinterest

The gone actress has not only given a lot to the Indian cinema, but her sass and talent of naturally moulding herself into any character gave her an upper hand in whatever she used to do. When many gay men were struggling and were confused about their sexual orientation they found a connection to their on-going pain in Sridevi’s roles. Whether it was Sridevi as a meek Anju and ferocious Manju fighting for everything wrong in ‘ChaalBaaz’ (1989), Pooja’s mutiny against the everlasting societal conditions in ‘Lamhe’ (1991), Seema’s confidence-filled and fearless dance in the ‘Mr. India’ (1987) song ‘Hawa Hawaai’ or her role of a naagin (snake) coming out to the world about her dual identity in ‘Nagina’ (1986), Sri’s roles had a deep connection and were etched in every GAY man’s mind.

He inhales abuses and makes us laugh. Here's why we do not deserve a man like Karan Johar
Image Source - giphy.com

And how can one miss ‘Kate Nahin Kat Te’ song of Sridevi from ‘Mr. India’, where she owned the song and made every gay guy’s dream to dance on it once with his man. This particular song was wild, seductive and equal parts bold. Sridevi draped in a sky-blue coloured saree with a matching bindi and of course adding fuel to the fire was her dancing moves. Even at the end of the song, a fully wet in rainwater, Sridevi stretching herself on a pile of hay – ‘Tumne jo li angdayi hai’ – where the diva nibbles on straws with a drenched fire in her eyes, leaving Mr. Kapoor to chivalrously lie on a distant haystack.

While mostly when the film fraternity was in a zone where feminine men were used as a tool to add fun elements on the silver screen, Sridevi was a ray of hope for the LGBTQ community. She was like a powerful symbol for the QUEERS. Her role resonated each and every gays struggle, and also echoed their dysphoria into her characters. And with her, all the queer children surpassed the narrow-minded stereotypes which they were labelled with. Lastly, she might be gone, but the colourful rainbow universe she opened for all the fellow LGBTQ people remains there intact..

Hail the QUEEN! RIP Sridevi.