Lokesh Kumar’s film, My Son is Gay, has been in the news for many years now. It isn’t every day that a director makes his debut with a film whose protagonist is a homosexual, after all. It is a film that even the director’s family and friends weren’t in support of. It’s all finally paid off for Lokesh this past week, when his film was certified U/A without any cuts by the CBFC. “I was nervous about the certification, but it’s clear that the audience profile is changing!”
The idea for the film came to him after he attended the Bangalore Queer Film Festival many years ago. “Initially, I thought of doing the film in Hindi, but I had budget constraints and casting issues,” says Lokesh, who was forced to shelve the project for a while. And then, he came up with the idea of crowdfunding the film, but that didn’t go too well either. “I couldn’t collect more than `11 lakh and had to return the money to the respective contributors,” he says. And then, finally, he found the film’s producers in Anil Saxena and Cyril D’Souza. “All thanks to Facebook,” he smiles.
Lokesh completed shooting in about 27 days in and around Chennai and Kerala. “The actors and technicians all reacted with shock when they learned about the subject of this film. They hadn’t ever done a film that had touched upon homosexuality in all their years of work,” he says. And that’s probably why many renowned actors refused to be part of this project. “They all liked the story, but didn’t want to risk their careers by coming on board. They are image-conscious,” he says.
Anupama Kumar was the first actor to show interest in the film. “Through her, senior actors including Kishore and Jayaprakash came aboard. Anupama came in as an artiste, but ended up becoming a co-director. Her interactions with LGBT members came in handy,” he says.
“It’s a matter of understanding that homosexuality is an orientation. Due to preconceived notions, it gets stereotyped. It’s high time we stopped being insensitive about gender identity.”
My Son Is Gay, which is about a mother coming to terms with the homosexuality of her son, is planned for a simultaneous release in Tamil and Hindi next year. “I’ve had a lot of people ask if I am gay. But let me clarify once and for all: I don’t have to be gay to direct a film about a gay man!”
Lokesh is next working on a script about a rape victim. “I am drawn to parallel cinema, and love films like Visaaranai that educate the audience,” he says. My Son is Gay had its international premiere at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne in August this year. The film will be screened on November 25 at the Kolkata LGBT Film Festival.