Bollywood lessons on homosexuality

‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga’ is a brave movie. It’s about how a conservative Punjabi family deals with advanced societal and liberal topics like homosexuality

By Jagdesh Singh | OPINION |

Movies are not meant to be actual depictions of real life. Bollywood movies, especially. Movies can give you food for thought, at most. Bollywood movies can and have been achieving this of late, with glimpse of challenging our society today with new thinking while at the same time tugging emotional strings of your heart.

As the end credits roll for ‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga’, I was in a wistful mood. Shockingly to me, this movie didn’t shove mind numbing romantic ideas and stories down my entertainment throat. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still as far fetched as the next Bollywood movie and doesn’t even reflect any semblance of our boring lives here in Malaysia. But it’s family theme, I could relate to. It’s father daughter relationship story, I could relate to.

This is by no means any movie critic review of the movie. I’m not equipped because my diet of Bollywood is constrained to 2 movies annually.

Spoilers ahead.

Nevertheless, I can safely say this was a very brave movie to make. It’s about how Indian society view homosexuality, namely lesbians. It’s about how the traditional conservative Punjabi family deals with such advanced societal and liberal topics.

There’s a scene particularly that has been playing in my mind since last night. It’s of the protagonist, realizing she’s different from the rest of the other teenagers around her because of her ‘divergent’ sexuality, is praying her heart out in a Gurudwara, begging that she is made ‘normal’ like the rest.

When I was growing up as a teenager, I had always assuredly thought that homosexuality was something developed over the years due to hyper sexual tendencies or decadent behavior. At the same time , I was also fearful that I would wake up one day and suddenly realize I’m gay, out of nowhere. So was such times we were living in then.

We, the majority if not all of us, never for once thought that being gay was something you’re born with. Not like a sickness or like a malfunction of our biology, rather nature designed differently. And for most of those who hadn’t realize how natural it was to be gay, life as a gay was living hell. Acceptance in society, and even in family, was non existence. Imagine that. Imagine being hated by the ones who raised you up lovingly simply because you were born differently. Imagine being chased away simply because we can’t accept them as they are, and fearful society won’t accept us for understanding their life of hell. It was a vicious world back then.

Unfortunately, it’s still a vicious world today. And that’s why I can call this movie a brave one. It tries to bring this topic up, fumbling along with light-hearted and comedic scenes, and challenges the audience of what they’ve always thought gays to be. Much like how I thought gays were when much younger. It tells us of the struggles of this girl hiding her true self because of fear.

I was proud to see my 14 year old daughter understand what the movie was trying to communicate to us, as we sat there lounging watching the movie. She didn’t seem perturbed or bothered. She understood that society can be a judgmental one. But she also understood that she had the support of her parents and her family if she somehow was feeling alienated by society for being different in any way.

I had never imagined a Bollywood movie to be a tool that would help my kids and myself understand how we should be treating other humans. No matter their backgrounds, no matter their races, no matter their religion, no matter how nature designed them. As equals. As One.

Jagdesh Singh, a Kuala Lumpur-based executive with a US multinational company, is a father of three girls who are as opinionated as their mother

* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.



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