Think of a flowing white gown embroidered with rose-like patches. A small garden bustling with laughter from a group of people anticipating your walk down the aisle. Think of your walk, a slow one, you are trying to let the surroundings find a seat for themselves in your heart, you want someone to pinch you so you believe it’s true. Just when you enter, your partner whistles you out of your disbelief. It is true. You exchange rings and vows and a long kiss, and look at each other like they do in Bollywood when they know they were always meant to be together before the camera fades into its signature “happily ever after”.
What a dream, right? Now that you have the mental picture of a happy, almost fairytale like ending, let me introduce you to the film that made it a reality. “Love. No Boundaries”, a film made as part of LGBTQ activist Monisha Ajgaonkar’s project, The Photo Diary, stars Deeptii Mohan and Ajgaonkar herself in what seems like a dream many of us from the LGBTQ community want to see as our truth in India. Directed by Archana Thapliyal, the film released on Wedding Sutra’s YouTube channel in 2017 with the vision of “offering a snippet into the representation of lesbians, the struggles they face at important junctures in their lives and the promise of hope and happiness”.
Ajgaonkar, who herself is part of the community, began the Photo Diary to reconnoitre human emotions and script them in the form of colourful and monochrome images. “Love. No Boundaries” makes a deep reconnaissance of the anxieties and hopes of the LGBTQ community and seams them into a narrative of love and the struggles that the community continues to face in their path to a married life.
In the 2 minute short film, while Mohan, draped in a white gown, waits for the moment she receives a call from her mother who expresses sorrow at being unable to attend her daughter’s wedding. Her husband doesn’t approve of the relationship. Composing herself out from downheartedness, Mohan emerges into a garden beaming with a crowd of people waiting for her. Ajgaonkar’s compliments for her bride translate into a whistle and Mohan’s lukewarm steps become steady towards a married life with her partner.
Ajgaonkar takes a determined leap in this video by depicting a same-sex marriage and hits right at the heart of the queer community’s demands in a post-377 India. The film speaks more to us today than ever because despite a watershed reading down of Section 377, the community doesn’t have legal rights and social protection that are pertinent for our everyday existence as citizens of this nation. I went to the 9th Indradhanu Pune Pride this year and spoke to friends and allies of the community to understand the demands we have for the future. All of them had same-sex marriage as their top agenda.
The film takes an important legal demand of the community and translates it into visuals which do not play peek-a-boo with its audience, instead point right at the issue — a same-sex couple who is getting married but their parents do not approve. This also tells us how the road to acceptance for the community lies bifurcated into legal and social lines as legal marital rights do not imply social acceptance from the society. The short film is so clear in its ambition and portrayal that I know when I send it to my parents, they will get the point.
Ajgaonkar’s film drives us straight to the dilemmas and struggles of the LGBTQ community whose dream of a conjugal life is being fought for by the collective vision and activism of the community and allies. Love. No Boundaries shows us how the road to acceptance and recognition is still a long one for the community but all journeys start with a single step which multiply into strides. And when those strides steer us closer to our dreams, I hope they look as beautiful and dreamy as they did in Ajgaonkar’s film.