In 2020, ex-Army officer, Major J Suresh talked about homosexuality and his experiences in the army and why defence forces need to be inclusive with regards to non-heteronormative people, in an interview with the NDTV.
As per a report by the Times of India, Major Suresh had left army because of his sexual orientation. Filmmaker Onir wanted to honour his story in his latest anthology We Are, a sequel to I Am and a celebration of the 2018 verdict decriminalising homosexuality, touching upon issues that remain unaddressed.
However, last year a development took place in this regard. The defence ministry wrote to the Information & Broadcast (I&B) ministry and the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to seek an approval, an NOC, from them before telecasting any feature movie, documentary or web series on the Indian Army.
Following the set protocol, Onir sought an approval from the Ministry of Defence (MoD), but the strategic communication wing of the MoD wrote an email refusing to clear the movie, Onir told Gaysi over a telephonic conversation. He shared that he was verbally informed as to why the movie wasn’t cleared: because of an army officer being gay in the movie.
“It’s not disrespectful to the army. I have made a sensitive and empathetic movie,” Onir says. “Cinema is meant to question. And it’s not a fictitious tale; I have made a movie on what’s available in the public domain,” he continues, before lamenting the fact that over 56 countries honour representation from the LGBTQIA+ people in their defence forces. Though we’ve let go of the colonial law, the mindset continues to haunt us, Onir submits.
He is particularly dejected by the fact that when it comes to LGBTQIA+ people, little public support is shown, whenever anything concerning them becomes a pressing issue. However, he continues to remain hopeful, and is figuring out with his legal department on the procedure to re-appeal to the MoD to reconsider the movie.