No Holds Barred Attack on Puritanism

Jayan Cherian says he brings to the screen the lives and struggles of people that are generally not included inthe popular narrative

Published: 11th April 2016 06:04 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th April 2016 06:04 AM   |  A+A-

If his previous film, Papilio Buddha dealt with violence against Dalits, Jayan Cherian's latest offering Ka Bodyscapes takes up another, if more controversial issue - the struggle faced by gay people in a homophobic society.

At a preview screening organised by the Janachitra film society at the Cinepolis multiplex, Jayan, along with several of the film's cast and crew, hosted a Q&A session with the audience, a significant portion of which was made up of members of the city's LGBT community.

The film revolves around the homosexual relationship between an artist and a graphic designer with a rightwing magazine. A subplot involves a Muslim woman who fights harassment against women at the workplace as well as orthodoxy within the Muslim community. Needless to say, neither of them has it easy.

Like Jayan's previous film, 'Ka Bodyscapes' deals with issues that are only now coming out of the closet in defiance of the status quo in a puritanical Kerala.

And like the previous work, Jayan is facing an uphill task to get the film cleared by the CBFC. Speaking to the audience after the screening, Jayan asserted that the film was a collective effort, in that the ideas and experiences of several of the film's cast and crew found their way into the narrative.

The film, he said, brings to the screen the lives and struggles of people that are generally not included in the popular narrative.

"There have been increasing attempts by the Hindu right to impose a monolithic idea of India in the popular imagination," the filmmaker remarked.

The idea of India that exists in popular currency, he added, is modelled on the moral prudery of Victorian Britain during the late 18th and 19th centuries. As such, attempts to present a sanitised image of the country have been on since the early 20th century and have accelerated in pace in the last few decades. 

The film is a way of saying that India has never been a monolithic society, and that the subcontinent has been able to accommodate several cultures and streams of thought seamlessly, Jayan said.

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