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Let’s Talk About 377 | Popular Culture is Changing How India Views Homosexuality

Still from "Fire", showing two women standing together intimately, smiles on their faces

When Sridhar Rangayan directed his first film, Pink Mirror, in 2002, he was on tenterhooks. He had just launched his production house, and scrambled together resources from friends for an ambitious project: A no-holds-barred chronicle of lives of desi drag queens.

The shooting was done in just four days, and the crew went to great lengths to keep the press out. Any rumour of the film, they feared, would jeopardise the project. After all, there was still little public conversation about sexuality, the Naz Foundation petition that eventually led to the decriminalisation of adult homosexual relationships in 2009 was nascent and the only way queer people found space in the media was when they were brutally murdered.

“The film was kind of shot underground. For the first few screenings, people were scared to come. We lured them with samosas and adrak chai,” Rangayan says.

He was right. Days after the film was released, the Central Board of Film Certification banned it, citing vulgarity of content though the film had little nudity, violence or graphic language. Rangayan contends it was because the characters were unabashed about their gender and sexuality. “They expected the characters to cry and grovel,” he laughs, adding that he made three more appeals before giving up.

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