Are We There On The Inclusivity Ladder Yet? – Views on Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan’s Trailer

Every few years, the Bollywood industry comes up with a piece of content that attempts to portray homosexuality. The audience starts applauding the ‘ballsy’ move that has been taken by the makers, about how it requires courage to create something “unusual” rather than commercial cinema that has been prevailing since the dawn of the industry. We applaud the ‘leap’ towards being inclusive and accepting. Whereas they fail to look below the superficial layer and dig out the reality of homosexuals in the country.

Instead, all we are doing is just hovering around on the surface, too scared to go beneath and understand the real world which exists, which is not comical or punny as compared to the content that is being fed to the mass including educated as well as uneducated individuals of a wide spectrum of age in the name of change and breaking stereotypes.

A few days back the trailer of Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan starring Ayushmann Khurrana, popularly known to break stereotypes by picking up courageous scripts and Jitendra Kumar, portraying a gay relationship released, and as perceived, it has won hearts and ignited conversations regarding the existence and acceptance of homosexuality in Indian families and homophobia prevailing in the society.

It has so far been promising, unlike the past where gay men have been stereotyped, caricatured and being looked upon as another funny character in a vast premise of happenings. Slicing the trailer and talking about the nuance characteristics that have been shown are something to be appreciated. The scene with the megaphone and the pride cape acknowledging the disease that homophobia is was a good one. The way in which the lead actor (Ayushmann) flaunts a nose ring like a sport by not mocking it and making a big deal of, the romantic mushy bike ride scene executed beautifully without making it look cringy and the opening scene conversation between a typical Indian uncle and Khuranna being the show stealer, throwing light upon the normalcy that is in their existence.

Something that stuck with me from the 2-minute glimpse is the recreation of the iconic train sequence from DDLJ.Something that every hopeless romantic has dreamt of and willed to create and live their own iconic Bollywood moment. Whenever we came across a recreation it has always been among the heterosexual relationships, the closeted groups couldn’t even dare to dream of living a moment historic enough that doesn’t traumatize them but rather make them want to live for it.

This movie upon release is sure to win accolades, appreciation and commercial success as well: point one being the cis-gender casting; two, because it is ‘different’ and three, because it is humorous. We have got to address the elephant in the room, nowhere do we see a queer artist being given a chance to play their authentic selves. There are struggling actors and artists trying to turn their dreams into reality and become a part of the dominant entertainment industry of the country, where majority are turned down opportunities they rightfully deserve, solely on the basis of their gender and sexuality, which is ironic because looking at the content that’s grabbing attention recently is based on their lives and struggles, whereas they are the ones having to deal with the hatred and backlash just because they exist.

On one side where we are looking at such content through rose-tinted glass, calling it a progressive step towards authenticity and inclusivity, what we often forget that a story as such isn’t always brimming with satirical comic happenings. Yes, there is an urgency to educate the audience and inculcate normalcy regarding these issues. It is also equally important to not disregard the fact that most queer people do not have it this easy. Most real-life stories like these never even get a chance to witness a happy ending. It’s high time we stop dismissing the reality, struggles and hardships the community faces in order to live their happily ever after, just so to create something that grabs the eye and mints money.

About time we start appreciating the kind of cinema that has showcased the raw reality in the past, many of which didn’t see the sun of commercial success or as basic as it can get, didn’t pass the board for a nationwide release, because the mass audience dished it out for being “too real”, “not entertaining enough”, “inappropriate” and every other kind of negative hurtful comment.

Moreover, while we deserve happy and unconventional stories, what we deserve more are well-researched stories, where the person playing the role of a gay man must be well aware of gay rights prevailing in the country and be responsible enough to not make a factually incorrect statement in public. Being part of a queer love story, posing and waving the pride flag alongside national tricolour does not solve the purpose. The makers have got to be more responsible while tackling sensitive topics.

Somewhere this movie does hold hope. On the contrary also lacks basic fundamental research and queer artists playing their authentic selves on screen. It is a step forward but we aren’t there yet, still got a long way to go.

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An Architect on paper, but an Artist and writer by heart. Constantly in search of ideas and inspiration to create. With aspirations high as the sky of becoming an illustrator, writer, designer, pastry chef and everything else that pops into my mind every morning. Trying to fit it all in a small bag and drive forward. A work in progress learning and unlearning things daily, finding solace through words and visuals.
Purva Shethji

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