In a legendary verdict on Thursday, the Supreme Court scrapped Section 377 and decriminalised same-sex relationships between consenting adults. Tamil cinema’s tryst with the LGBTQ+ community has largely been problematic with several films choosing to portray queer characters in a caricaturish light. But a few fair representations have cropped up in recent times, earning praise for their sensitive treatment.
Ashwinjith, who played the lead in the film My son is gay, says that the verdict was long-pending. “This should have come long back. I personally feel very happy about the judgement, and as a country, we are moving forward in a very positive direction. Kudos to the activists and to all those who stood by the LGBT community and made this possible.”
America Mapillai, an original web-series for Zee 5, centres around the coming-out-of-the-closet journey of its lead. Raja Ramamurthy, the creator, and writer of the web-series says that he used the series as a platform to throw some light on the stigma one faces when they are honest about their sexual orientation. Talking about the judgement, he says, “By repealing the archaic law, the Supreme Court’s landmark judgement upholds the fundamental freedom of the individual. This is not only a victory for the LGBTQ community but a huge step towards progress for us as a society.”
Filmmaker and activist Malini Jeevarathinam, whose Ladies and Gentlewomen focuses on lesbian relationships, says that the judgement will go a long way in minimising suicidal thoughts among the community. She further adds that it will be critical in sensitising the industry about the LGBTQ+ community. “Women have been subjected to great discrimination within cinema and media, even more so when it comes to women from the community. This will definitely help in sensitising people within cinema itself.” She believes this will ease the inhibitions of actors when it comes to portraying characters that belong to the community. “When I was filming Ladies and Gentlewoman, there were several rejections from artistes, technicians and even the victims who we were talking to. But now to see so many actors celebrate the verdict is heartening, and I hope artistes will agree to such roles in the future.”
Roju, director of the web series Kallachirippu, says that he included the sub-plot around homosexuality to break the “perfect society” image. He adds that the judiciary has earned his respect with this verdict. “This judgement is special not just for making the right call, but also for how it has done it. The sensitivity with which it has been worded is what needs to be spoken about the most. I hope it goes into all the political science textbooks across all education boards to make sensitive, global citizens out of our children and youth.”
He further adds that we can only qualify ourselves as an inclusive society if films that unapologetically deal with issues faced by the community are acknowledged and accepted. “I remember watching ‘120 beats per minute’ at the Goa film festival last year, after having completed the post-production of Kallachirippu. Immediately after the film, I felt there was so much more to be said that I wished I had. Now, I’m motivated to do more if and when I get the chance to explore the topic in the future.”
This was originally written for The New Indian Express. You can find it here.