M’town goes offbeat, 'My Life Partner' and 'Odum Raja Aadum Rani' deal with homosexuality

Published May 4, 2014, 7:37 pm IST
Updated Jan 10, 2016, 8:38 am IST
"Homosexuality has to be addressed and not swept under the carpet"
Kochi: Malayali actors have always been part of the Tamil film industry. Manu is yet another such actor. The future seems  bright for Manu, who stole the hearts of Malayalis with his charming looks and refined acting in Friday. He is now bagging movies in Kollywood. 
“I enjoy acting and I am excited to be a part of Tamil film industry as it is my favourite language,” he says.  The good looking Manu has his hands full with Tamil movies. Currently he is busy shooting for Anna Nagar 99, Second Street directed by Zakir Hussain. “It is a horror-cum-love story. I play a cool MBA student, Johny, who loves adventures and goes for trips,” he says.
A frequent visitor to Chennai and an ardent fan of Tamil films, Manu finds no difficulty in gelling with the industry. “People are so polite over there. We have completed 25 days shooting and I am planning to dub in my voice for the film. I am doing my homework for that.” The actor has already committed to another Tamil romantic movie directed by G. Ganesh. “It will be a complete musical love story,” says Manu enthusiastically. 
The actor who loves the work of actors like Vinay Pathak, dreams of  making a mark in films with good roles. “Vinay Pathak is a versatile actor and his performance in Dasvidaniya is beyond words. He is the man who made me fall in love with acting.” The actor who is a familiar face in M-town is also acting in Joshy John’s One Second Please and Lijin Jose’ Monkeys. 
The recent Supreme Court ruling making gay sex a punishable crime raised an outcry from the gay community that has always been shunned and pushed to the outer fringes of society. The society at large prefers to ignore this ‘elephant in the living room’ and Malayalam films too have mostly steered clear of the homosexuality angle. However, the success of Mumbai Police featuring Prithviraj in the lead as an officer with homosexual tendencies — has encouraged some filmmakers to showcase the concerns and emotional turmoil of the gay community. Two upcoming films — My Life Partner and Odum Raja Aadum Rani — have gay relationships as the central theme.
My Life Partner directed by M.B. Padmakumar deals with the deep and intricate relationship between two men who love each other and the issues that crop up when they plan to adopt a baby. The film deals with the emotion rather than the sexual side of the relationship. Says Padmakumar, “New filmmakers need to veer away from the traditional subjects and one cannot close one’s eyes to the feelings, emotions and presence of the gay community. Homosexuality is a human behaviour like drinking or prostitution and has to be addressed and not swept under the carpet! It is only in Kerala that people prefer to wear masks but other metros like Mumbai and Chennai are more tolerant to such themes.”
Padmakumar adds that a lot of research has gone into the film. He points out that a lot of homesexuals from Kerala are active on the social media and that he himself has created a profile and interacted with these people for two years. He adds, “People want to know more about the subject.”
Padmakumar faced the most important challenge when distributors were reluctant to touch the film. He says even the media was not ready to write about the film. “I had to show each theatre owner and distributor the film individually to make them realise the film’s worth; the same with the media houses too!” In fact, Padmakumar’s film refers to the Supreme Court ruling.
Viju Varma, director of Odum Raja Aadum Rani, prefers to tell his tale through a humorous track. It is about the story of Tini Tom who is a travelling door-to-door salesman and an effeminate karagattakara dancer played by Manikandan who takes a fancy to the manly Tini Tom. Speaking about his reasons for such a subject, Viju says, “The subject is so current, with the whole country discussing gay rights and issues. I prefer to address a serious issue in a humorous vein and it is about a community that is slowly getting eliminated from the society! I am very confident about my story which is laced with black humour.”
Viju has also interacted with the third gender and he opines, “They ask me one pertinent question which is ‘if you have a child like us will you kill it? You may try to go for a gender change but you will certainly not kill it’. We are used to just the male and female sex and turn a blind eye to the third gender which shows the narrowness of our minds and our attitude.”
Mumbai Police scripted by Sanjay-Bobby was a shock to most audiences but was a commercial success. Sanjay, while mentioning that it was not a gay theme but a gay angle, applauds Prithviraj — a mainstream actor for accepting the role. He says, “This film is based on Sigmund Freud’s theory that an overly aggressive man who is often very terrorising in his ways to women is hiding something! Here the initial Antony Moses knows that he is lacking something and tries to cover that up by his over aggressiveness. The second Antony Moses who loses his memory is more of a normal man.” Sanjay admits to the Kerala society as being too orthodox and that to explain the gay angle to his brother Bobby’s ten-year-old boy would have been difficult but that it did not deter them. He ends, “We handled the theme sensitively.”