Wednesday, February 1, 2023
HomeOpinionPoVAyushmann Khurrana, pick right scripts. Don't call India homophobic

Ayushmann Khurrana, pick right scripts. Don’t call India homophobic

Ayushmann Khurrana’s Shubh Mangal Zyada Savdhaan found success and appreciation among the audiences. So who is he complaining about?

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Bollywood actor Ayushmann Khurrana says his film failed because India is a homophobic country. But his LGBTQ film flopped because it was a terrible representation, and not because Indians are intolerant. If that was true, so many other LGBTQ+ movies wouldn’t work so well.

So, Khuranna has to pick the right scripts, not blame Indian viewers.

In an interview to the Hindustan Times, the actor, who is famous for picking out-of-the-box roles, said that his film Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui failed because India is a homophobic country. Remember that proverb in Hindi – Angoor Khatte Hain? That would appropriately capture his understanding of and position on the issue.

He talks about ‘success’ – but what defines it? Does it have to do with box office collections? Does ‘success’ not mean quenching the thirst of cinema lovers? And does it not mean awards? Ayushmann Khurrana’s so-called LGBT films did not stand successful by any of these parochial standards.

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Where the argument falls flat

Had India or the Indian cinema watchers been homophobic, then all LGBT films would fail these standards, right? But that’s not the case. Manoj Bajpayee won the best actor (critics) title for Aligarh at the 62nd Filmfare Awards. Released more than a decade ago, Abhishek Bacchhan and John Abraham’s romcom Dostana, which is technically not an LGBT film, popularised homosexuality in the mainstream and earned more than Rs 80 crore worldwide.

This year, Rajkummar Rao and Bhumi Pednekar’s Badhai Do, a film that reveals the complications of lavender marriages in small Indian towns, earned more than 93 per cent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes — a feat many straight/cis blockbuster love stories such as Yeh Javani Hai Diwani or Ae Dil Hai Mushkil have not earned. In fact, Ayushmann Khurrana’s other gay film Shubh Mangal Zyada Savdhaan too has achieved this accolade. So who is he complaining about?

If the Indian audience was really homophobic, the Hindi film industry wouldn’t have delivered gems such as Made in Heaven, Bombay Talkies, Maja Ma. Khurrana’s criticism doesn’t hold much water and only goes on to show his frustration against his flops, which need more introspection.

Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui is a movie about a toxic masculine guy who falls in love with a woman and later gets to know that his love interest was a man before a surgery. The movie didn’t play a trans person in the lead because Bollywood, you see. But nonetheless, the trans character appeared divorced from reality. Transwomen are one of the most vulnerable personalities in India who are subjected to torture, harassment and transphobia. Yet, the script chose a filthy-rich transwoman for Ayushmann to fight his internal homophobia.

India needs to show as much realistic LGBT content as possible, so that the person sitting next to you could know how common and okay it is to have same sex affection. In contrast to Ayushmann Khurrana, look at the way Nawzuddin Siddiqui confronted the coming out of Cuckoo in sacred games. Siddiqui, who acted as Ganesh Gaitonde, is a mafia in Mumbai, but when he gets to know about Cuckoo’s sexuality, he doesn’t make a fuss about it. We can eventually say that Cuckoo’s sexuality was so normalised that it didn’t deviate the makers from the plot of the Sacred Games.

I am not commenting on his acting skills, Khurrana has delivered great performances in Vicky DonorDum Laga Ke HaishaBadhai Ho among others. They are fabulous pieces of entertainment. I agree that Indian youth is homophobic. Thanks to the dank ‘meme pages’ peddling homophobia, being anti-LGBT is now seen with some sort of badge of honour.

But dear Ayushmann, they are not the ones making your films flop, your wrong choices are.

Views are personal.

(Edited by Anurag Chaubey)

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