Kashish And Me

[Guest Author : Perniciously]

I spent four whole days attending Mumbai’s first International Queer Film Festival – something I had been looking forward to for the last three months, ever since I got to know that a colleague in Hindustan Times was writing a story about a “gay film festival”.

110 films were to be shown. I honestly have lost count of how many I managed to catch. In fact, I wasn’t trying to keep count at all. What I do know is that I love to have had the chance to be at one of India’s first Queer Film Festivals.

The films were an insane mixture of educational, entertaining and probing. There was a documentary about an Indian photographer who captures queer Indians through his lens. His work was astounding – stark nudity instead of the Bollywood soft porn that the mainstream churns out, he argued. He is also HIV+ which brought up another issue – the taboo of being an HIV+ person. It was quite an eye opener, because I have never really thought about it before – how it would feel to be shunned firstly for being gay and secondly for being HIV+. I like things that stir you up and make you think – and such were most of the films that followed.

I also watched this film called Oh Happy Day, and it’s most definitely the cutest gay rom-com I have ever seen. It was such an amazing feeling to hear the audience go “Aw!” when Jonathan and David kiss for the first time and to hear them cheer and applaud when they get back together in the end (quite a cheesy Bollywood-type ending, but cute nonetheless). Maybe someday, queer films will run in mainstream cinemas with mainstream audiences and the reaction would be the same. In the meanwhile, I’d suggest you get your hands on a copy of this film. It’s lovely.

What I really would have wanted in the whole Kashish experience would be more queer women visibility. There were such few women (both attending and volunteering) – which was quite disappointing. Even during the panel discussion – there were no queer women on the panel. Not one. It brings up another underlying issue of how it’s possibly harder for queer women to get out of the closet and out in the open as activists. I hope, this will change in the years to come.

I am also quite happy that my not-so-queer friends came in for the festival.

And now, I can’t wait for the Queer Azadi March. I love being a part of these events for they make me feel like a part of a process, a change in the making.

For those of you who missed Kashish, I really do hope to see you there next year.

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