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Banned from Love

vdLove is in the air, literally. From hoardings on the road to website banners on the internet – everyone is screaming their lungs out about the Festival of Love – Valentine’s Day. In my limited social life (whatever is left of it) on WhatsApp, I have been involved too in wishing my friends everyday of the Valentine Week, religiously (special wishes for special few).

On the night before the V-Day (D-Day ain’t suitable here you see), as the clock was about to strike 12, I was having a conversation with a friend – about love, being loved and social prejudices attached to it. After 11.12.13, life has become one of struggle yet again. We are criminals in our own country. Our right to love is banned.

Just because I am a man, the Indian Constitution does not allow me the right to love the person who means the world to me. It is only restricted to WhatsApp, sometimes a post or two on Facebook and a flurry of tweets; some occasional blog posts like this. Thanks to Justice AP Shah, we had got a leash of life… a societal revolution had started; all of it was undone on 11.12.13.

Now on this Valentine Day, as I sit alone in my room and key in these words for my blog, myriad thoughts cross my mind. Thousands of chained emotions wish to break free… What remains is the WhatsApp message from my friend:

Ekhane esob hobe na, ami bujhe gechi (I have understood, it is not possible here in India)

Two men or women, despite being in love… despite wanting to spend their lives together will be frowned upon, mocked, ghettoed, even penalised. Love is banned in India.

Canvas of Desires

After a busy week, the weekend brings in a cheer of life back to the mundane routine that we live. A cinephile that i am, i try to capitalise the two days by watching as many films i can during these few hours. The experience rejuvenates the overworked neurons and channelises your focus back to intellectual stimulation of the senses. This week was no different.

Gandu, Ichhe, Prayers for Bobby were the picks this week. Three starkly different films, based on themes poles apart. But the undercurrent of desire flowing through each of them, connects them all.

Courtesy -

The debate over depiction of sexuality in films will last till civilization exists. Even without getting into the realm of morality, one can  say Gandu ushers in the era of adolescence in Bengali cinema (yes, adolescence. Not maturity). The desire to make it big, become famous and own the company of choicest of women keeps Gandu ( literal translation asshole) alive. Born of illegitimate relationship between a businessman and his mother, Gandu desires to break free of the jail of life and become a rap star.

Quite similar is the fate of Soumik aka Rana. His mother Mamata is an overbearing, caring woman whose world revolves around her only son. The desires that went unfulfilled in her life must be turned into reality by her “saat rajar dhon”. Soumik feels suffocated living the life his mother wants him to, the desire to be what he wants slowly creates an invisible wall between him and Mamata.

Courtesy Indiaglam

Booby’s sin was his sexuality. Or was it being born in a orthodox Christian family which interprets the Bible literally? In her quest to rid her son of the sinful mental disorder, Mrs Mary Griffith kills her son’s desire to live. Struggling to come to terms with his sexuality, Bobby’s desire to BE what he is devastates his family.

Gandu’s USP is its rawness. That could well be termed its folly. Bold, raucous, every frame is bears witness that makers of this film were high on adrenaline and testosterone. Whether it is the expression of anger or the drive of lust, the zeal to make it real defeats the purpose of realistic cinema. The sequence of culmination of Gandu’s desires during the last few minutes deserves praise for even trying to film it. The music of the film too scores brownie points for the film. Lyrics that can make any “bhadralok” into jittery nervousness, the songs of Gandu reflect the turmoil Gandu is going through in his life.

Ichhe strikes a chord with every Bengali. We have all been through a phase when our mothers have tried to “guide” us in our lives to the extent of manipulating it. For a mother whose world centres around her son, the grief of vacating the space to another woman, his girlfriend, will indeed be a tough task. Sohini Halder plays the role with ease, albeit slipping into her “theatre” mode at times. Samadarshi Dutta is a revelation.

Courtesy Movieposterdb dot com

Prayers for Bobby is a film of hope. Although Bobby Griffith gave up his life, his desire burns in every homosexual heart – the desire to live with dignity and love. Another movie that gets added in my bucketlist of “Coming Out” films for Mom, it certainly leaves a mark in my soul. Have i not lived in Bobby’s shoes for quite some time now?

Films like Prayers for Bobby or Ichhe keep my desire to keep watching films alive. And with technological gateways, films are at our disposal, waiting to be viewed. If only we had the time……….

My Ratings:

Gandu – 2/5

Ichhe – 3/5

Prayers For Bobby – 3.5/5

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