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The makers of this Ladki have made sure that they have taken essential baby steps in this narrative of same sex love, getting the idea across in a film you can watch with family. Kudos!
Ek ladki ko dekha to aisa laga, that she would make the perfect bride. That she would make the perfect bride…for a groom. We’re never able to see beyond that, and neither do we want to.
But with the movie ELKDTAL, you can no longer shut your eyes. It’s out there. What we have chosen to believe doesn’t exist is now on posters and billboards across the country. Famous directors and leading actors you have admired are inviting you to see and accept a truth- that a relationship between two people of the same sex is natural and normal. You not accepting this or refusing to believe it will not change who they are. The directors convey this message through one of Sonam’s lines: “Ye naatak to ab ho ke rahega, jo karna hai kar lo”, where the ‘naatak” stands as a metaphor for who she is. For those who don’t get it, there’s the tart undertone of: “what you think of this issue isn’t as important as the happiness of a person in a same-sex relationship.”
No jargon, no gyan, no melodrama; with a certain ease and lightness they build the narrative of a conservative Punjabi family, and how Sonam Kapoor’s character feels smothered by the heteronormativity of their ideas for her future.
In the process, the movie brings forward many other stereotypes our society is ailing from. Anil Kapoor’s character, a man who loves the ‘hing-lassan’ fragrance and has a passion for cooking is told by his mother that he’s a ‘janani’ in making. The custodian of moral values and the self-proclaimed doctor who has taken the onus to eradicate the disease of homosexuality, Babloo bhaiya chooses a lesser dangerous truth to control his younger sister by declaring to the family that she’s involved with a Muslim man. The clatter of cutlery on the dining table stops at the word ‘musalaman’. The same brother is later on ready to ‘compromise’ with a musalman jija, because anything is better than a same-sex relationship.
How we wish all fathers were as level-headed and malleable like Balbir Chowdhary (Anil Kapoor). He is ready to question his ideology around inter-religion marriage and he is ready to let his heart bleed on seeing his daughter’s childhood lost and trapped in her diaries. He reaches a point where the room is devoid of the noise of the world, where all that remains is himself, and his daughter’s younger self who’s caged in a glass box. Seeing his daughter cry for help: ‘Papa mujhe yahan se nikalo’, he realizes all that matters to him is his child’s happiness- and that love is love.
You wish that Sweety (Sonam Kapoor) had taken this step without the help of a straight man (Rajkumar Rao). But perhaps to overcome years of shame inflicted by the society is not easy to do by yourself. There’s a lesser amount of romance between Sweety and her girlfriend, only limited to some superficial hand-holding and hugs, very different to what we see in U/A movies featuring a man and a woman. But Bollywood is taking baby steps, and the moviemakers want it to be a family movie. They know that if they want to make homosexuality a comfortable topic for Indian society, a family movie that will be discussed on dinner tables would be perfect.
So we are not complaining- only rejoicing. Section 377 may have decriminalized homosexuality but, we as a society are far from acceptance. With mainstream cinema talking about it in the open, we have begun the conversation. Now all you need to do is allow yourself to be educated and enlightened. And most importantly, educate your children. Watch this movie with the whole family. It is we who form the society. It is us and our children who stare and make fun of those who are called different. It is our conversations on the dining table that influence our children.
How can a different kind of love be…abnormal, sick, wrong, bad? Love is love, no matter what the genders of the lovers are.
Image source: a still from the movie Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga
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Manmeet is a writer by passion and a facilitator by choice. She works primarily in
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