The news of a film on the LGBT issue being screened on Doordarshan (DD National), India’s national and public owned broadcaster, is not a common phenomenon. More so since the film is being showcased after the Supreme Court’s reinforcement of Sec. 377 of the IPC in 2013. When bans on freedom of speech, ruthless silencing of dissenting voices and curtailing democratic spaces have become the norm of the day, it is indeed delightful, that a film on queer identities has opened up the possibility of shifting our attention from the mood of melancholia to the mood for love. 4th June, 2016,
The documentary is a narrative woven around real life characters from the LGBT community. Gourab Ghosh is a student of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), who was the first openly gay candidate to contest the JNU Students Union elections. Gourab is an activist, performer and he makes a very important and interesting point about the concept of love – solidarity. He says, love is solidarity after all, underlining what the community seeks from society at large.
Another gay couple Rishi and Bijay talks about love, life and living together for years as any other heterosexual couple in the city. Rishi and Bijay have been together for years and have gone through the ups and downs of being in a relationship and sharing their lives together. Himadri and Shiv extend this thought with their stories of coming to know each other, being in love and the ordinariness of everyday life and living. Shabnam and Asha, a lesbian couple, speaks in a carefree tone in the intimate and private space of their home. They bring up issues of acceptance and rejection from their family members, the expectations they have from each other, their vulnerabilities and most importantly their love and respect for each other. Shabnam proposes that they should keep doing things within social spaces so that people are sensitized and made aware of such relationships, or more importantly the existence of people with alternative sexual choices. Pradipta is a transgender who makes films, is a painter and has also performed in Bollywood films. His life is what he embodies; Pradipta’s life blurs the line between the personal and the political.
Although, the film borrows its title from a well known Wong kar Wai film of the same name, it makes a significant departure from Wai’s poetic use of bright colours, languid camera movements, mood music and a meditative pace to a more compact and tightly knit treatment, and the pacey narrative is interspersed with reflective shots of nature and the sea accompanied by minimal music in the background.
Akriti and Sandeep’s film In the Mood for Love is largely a film in English; therefore, the characters that the filmmakers choose as their subjects are urban and metropolitan. Thus, the ideas that these characters share do not, however, adequately address the idea of the ‘queer’ subject, which is not confined to the watertight categories of LGBT. Gourab Ghosh talks about ‘queering the space’; an idea that the film could have gestured to with examples, that is, real people who embody this queerness and radicalism. There was also an absence of voices from other parts of the country, who do not speak in English or chaste Hindi and do not belong to a certain class and have exposure to a metropolitan lifestyle. Representations from other demographics could have reinforced the spirit of inclusiveness the film celebrates, one of love and solidarity. At one point Rishi says “You don’t allow me the love of it. You only allow me the sex of it. I’ll grab what I can get!” These words uttered with a smile sum up the issues at the core of the film – is it all about sex? In the Mood for Love is extremely topical and helps us celebrate love of all shades and understand love both as ‘affect’ and ‘sociality’ while continuing to ask key questions on sexualities, the state, legitimacy and acceptance.