Short film on drag queens finally sees the light of day online
Sridhar Rangayan was busy directing episodes of Rishtey and Gubbare for Zee TV when the idea for a simple love story came to him. Titled Neele Peele Pardey, it explored the relationship between two gay men, each with a different preference of curtain colours, much to the disdain of the channel that wanted to maintain clean family content. “I had come out of the closet by then and I felt there was no content barring Riyad Wadia’s Bomgay that represented the LGBT community,” says the Mumbai-based filmmaker, explaining how his film Gulabi Aina was born. A comedy tracing the lives of two drag queens who vye for the same man, the 40-minute short film uses formulaic theatrics, dance and drama to carry the narrative. “The drag queens are themselves, without being apologetic about their sexuality.”
Banned then by the Censor Board, the movie is now up on Netflix, 14 years after it was made. “The Board wasn’t comfortable because a patriarchal symbol was reduced to prey. Netflix doesn’t have a censor policy in India, which works for us,” adds the 54-year-old activist and filmmaker. Talking about the LGBT content in cinema in the country, he is quick to point out that movies like Angry Indian Goddesses and Kapoor and Sons, which stay away from stereotypical depictions, are awfully rare. “The community is moving on from invisibility to empowerment, but I wish there are happier films being made rather than just ones on trauma and exclusion,” he adds. Rangayan is currently working on his next feature, Evening Shadows, a movie that tells the story of a family’s efforts to understand their son, who has just opened up about his sexuality.
— Lavanya Lakshminarayanan