Ektya Bhinti tells the story of how the relationship between and a father and gay son changes after the son learns that his father too is gay. Rohan Kanwade, writer and director of the films, touches on some controversial topics and has faced speculation for the same. We had the opportunity to catch up with him after his movie was screened at Kashish 2013. Here is what he had to say.
Q. Tell our readers in your own words what the movie is about.
Ektya Bhinti is about two people who are homosexuals; father and son. Son comes out to his father after his mother’s death, but the father was and is still in the closet. The mother, when alive, ruled their lives, but now that she is no more they both are living a free and happy life. But everything has its expiry date; even the happy days… and relationships!
Q. Tell us how you came up the story. Is there any particular writer or film that you drew inspiration from?
Well, I always seek real stories. Somehow I got to know from someone that there is this father and son who are gay and they both don’t know about it. I didn’t know how true it was, but that gave me my concept to write my new short story. Then I twisted the story by the son’s coming out and rest of the events that happen in it, as you’ve seen in the film. Then there is your own experience that you add into your work, which I have done. So I wrote of a father who couldn’t stand up for his own love and sexuality, hence he gets married to a woman. His lover leaves him as he couldn’t be with someone who wanted to live a dual life. Soon the father realizes that he took a wrong decision, even then he had to live with it. Then there is his own son who has accepted his sexuality and is living the way he wants to. But the guys he fell in love with did the same as his father had done to his lover. Both share the same kind of loneliness; that is what I had in my mind while writing this story.
As far as my inspiration is concerned, it’s LIFE which is all around us and PAST EXPERIENCES.
Q. People have criticized you for the non-glorified portrayal of your lead gay characters. Was it important for you to break this barrier? Do you think it is your job to only portray the LGBT community in the positive light as some people think you should?
As I have already said, I like to make films on real stories and real people. In real life every character has its own aura, which can be positive or negative. And with the kind of story I was dealing with the characters had to be dark.
You know, you see REAL YOU only when you talk to yourself, because you can’t hide things from yourself and whatever you do or think you feel it’s the right thing. In my film the characters behave the way they are, and I always make sure that I stick to the reality whenever I write stories.
As a filmmaker I don’t take oath to make only positive films which will help the LGBT community or the straight world. Sometimes you just tell stories. And in my film I have not shown something that is unreal! I guess criticism is happening only because the reality is there on the screen. Like we need sad days to know the meaning of happy days; the same way we need gloomy stories as well…
Q. Why did you choose not to edit or censor out the sex scene?
While I personally think it added a lot to the psychology of the closeted father, others thought it bordered on pornography. Was this scene important to the film?
I don’t even see the point of editing or censoring the sex scene. Everyone has their own way of presenting the story. I like to show the things that are challenging. Fortunately my actors Abhay and Bhushan were brave enough to do it, as they too felt it was an important scene after which the lives of those characters change forever. Plus that scene adds more intensity to the flow of the film. I guess people need to know that every sex scene or skin show doesn’t mean pornography. And honestly the audience who came to me after seeing the film said that the bed scene was handled sensitively.
Q. Will you be entering this film into any other festivals?
The film has been to the Bangalore Queer Film Festival (BQFF) and from there it went to Houston, as Indian Experimental Films, curated by BQFF. Then it was screened at Kashish. I have sent the film to a few more festivals, and now we are waiting for their call.
Q. What’s the next story you are working on? Can we expect to see more from you at Kashish next year?
Currently there are 2-3 stories I have. But I’m still working on the writing part and haven’t finished it yet. I’m trying to finish working on them as soon as possible so that hopefully I can participate in Kashish next year as well!