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girlfriends got very drunk one night which led to them being
sexually intimate with each other. For Sapna it was an
unfortunate incident and she begs for Rahul's forgiveness.
Rahul is eager to oblige. Tanya, at best, is considered to
be vile, a deranged woman for daring to desire Sapna. In the
end, a vengeful Tanya's lonely challenge to the patriarchy is
quashed and heterosexual love reigns supreme as the only
legitimate love to aspire for.
And you guessed right, Tanya hates men, because in
childhood she was sexually abused by an uncle. This
childhood trauma filled her with rage and hatred for men.
The moment Tanya confesses her love for Sapna, Sapna lets
her childhood friend down. Sapna shows no empathy at all to
Tanya and all she has is sheer disgust for Tanya. Tanya is a new
kind of challenge thrown in the path of the Indian hero who
as usual is on his way to claim his beloved, the Indian heroine.
The portrayal of lesbianism has not done much towards
creating a more accepting society or moving debate on the
issue to a finer level. However, it did make a commercial
success out of a routine film. Gay rights activists as quoted in
the Indian media have opposed Girlfriend, saying it is a
warped, unrealistic take on lesbianism.
However, it must be the first time two women break into
song and dance, very intimately disposed towards each other, in
a Hindi film. Isha Koppikar, Amrita Arora and Ashish
Choudhary have given endless inter views to the Indian media.
Isha Koppikar has said for her it was all about accepting a
challenging role, playing a lesbian in a Hindi film. Isha believes
Girlfriend is a very real film based on a real situation and wants
to move on with her career. Isha hails from a traditional family
in Maharashtra state with a Shiv Sena government in power.
Isha Koppikar's star is on the rise. She is going for sexier and
bolder roles, earning herself a tag of sexually liberated shocker.
In the meantime, Girlfriend has managed to do what is
needed most which is to take the issue of homosexuality into
the homes of Indians. In India cable TV is cheap and from
slums to mansions, everyone has cable and all the mainstream
channels carried inter views, news and views related to the film.
Did director Karan Razdan think letting the film echo the
prevailing view of homosexuality the best way to bring the issue
into public discourse? In real life, Sapna perhaps should have
rung the Sangini helpline (telephone counselling for sexual
minorities in New Delhi) to get some insight into Tanya's
affection for her. Or Tanya should have rung Sangini to find out
if it was love or obsession, which was tormenting her.
Sangini is a non-governmental organisation which provides
counselling and support to women in India who are struggling
to come to terms with their love for a Rani, not a Rahul.
Meanwhile in Chhattisgarh, a tribal majority state east of
Delhi, a group of tribal girls stopped Shiv Sena activists from
disrupting the screening of Girlfriend in their local cinema.
Months before the release, the film attracted a lot of
media coverage as it was believed to have graphic depictions
of a lesbian affair and its release was eagerly awaited. It had
become controversial even before it got to the cinema halls,
thus giving enough ammunition to Shiv Sena activists and
other like-minded people to mount their protest.
The film starts with the routine disclaimer about all
characters being only fictional and stating that any resemblance
to real life characters should be considered purely coincidental.
Upholders of Indian culture (Sanskriti) in India and abroad
would like you to believe that same sex relationships are mere
fiction for India. Homosexuality at best is a disease, an anomaly,
something vile that exists only in the West. If some people do
indulge in such objectionable behaviour, they are merely aping
western ways and thus corrupting Indian culture.
From Deepa Mehta's Fire to Karan Razdan's Girlfriend,
debate about homosexual relationships in the Indian
milieu has not moved much except that the issue is out there
being discussed. The film was available in Sydney just after its
release on video. This correspondent's act of borrowing the
film in order to write this piece caused much discomfort to
the local Indian shopkeeper and his two female customers.
The shopkeeper, an elderly Indian man, was of the view that
the government should not allow such films to be made
because same-sex relationships are not part of Indian culture.
Yet it is mainly Indian men who are into borrowing the
film here in Sydney -- men are getting some voyeuristic
pleasure out of it. Tejal Shah, a member of Forum Against
Oppression of Women (FAOW), as quoted in the Indian
media, believes Girlfriend is pornographic and has been made
entirely to give pleasure to heterosexual males.
It seems the protestors in India haven't even bothered to
watch the film. If only they had they would be delighted to
know that director Karan Razdan has kept his script
completely aligned to the popular negative myths about
lesbians and gays. Razdan told media he has not made a pro-
lesbian film but his intention was to start a discussion about
the issue and create awareness in society.
Let us look at the story line. Isha Koppikar (Tanya) and
Amrita Arora (Sapna) are childhood friends. All is well till
Sapna declares her love for Ashish Choudhary (Rahul). Tanya
has always been obsessed with Sapna who has no clue about
it even when Tanya tries her best to put Sapna off men. Tanya
also devises to make Rahul fall for her so that he can let go of
Sapna. After some twists and turns all gets revealed. Sapna is
horrified that Tanya could have such feelings for her, which
are reser ved only for male-female relations. When confronted,
Sapna confesses to Rahul that once during college, both
Female Painting Professional
colours, textures, features
interior & exterior
Sumegha Agarwal is a Sydney-based journalist and broadcaster.
MONTHS BEFORE THE RELEASE, THE FILM ATTRACTED A
LOT OF MEDIA COVERAGE AS IT WAS BELIEVED TO
HAVE GRAPHIC DEPICTIONS OF A LESBIAN AFFAIR AND
ITS RELEASE WAS EAGERLY AWAITED.
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