Kochi: Director M.B. Padmakumar embarked on a path less trodden when he decided to make a film. He chose a taboo subject for My Life Partner and the film received brickbats. Padmakumar’s film explored the subject of a gay relationship and as the release date neared, he faced numerous roadblocks.
The film, which was scheduled to release on May 2, was finally released on June 6. The reason for the delay was the stigma attached to the gay and lesbian community in Kerala, which lacks a socio-cultural space for LGBTs. This prejudice and taboo proved detrimental to the film. Padmakumar explains, “Each time I finalised a release date, theatre owners said that screens weren’t available. Finally, the film was released in four theatres in the State and that too only in small cinema halls.”
Padmakumar adds, “The real reason for the hesitancy in releasing the film was the bias against the theme and the posters displayed, which they feared would not bring in any viewers.” Padmakumar says that not a single theatre owner saw the film’s preview and that the audience who saw the film, including the critics, liked it. Incidentally, Padmakumar has been receiving feelers from Hindi filmmakers who want to remake the film and who are confident of the film running in north India.
Padmakumar attributes the poor show of the film to a lot of factors. He says, “I received calls from the national media but not a single media person from Kerala supported me! My film has quality and is a standard film but died a quick death in Kerala. I personally feel that the people in Kerala are narrow-minded. The LGBT community is very strong here but even those people are scared to watch the film. This narrow-mindedness left me all alone with no support from any quarter, including the actors in the film. They took their remuneration but did not appear for any promotions, fearing a backlash!”
Padmakumar mentions that there was zero support from Government theatres, although MLP is a commercial movie. He quips, “If the same film is screened at the IFFK, it might get viewers because of the exalted ‘buddhi jeevi’ tag attached to it.
Learning from the experience he says, “My next film will be a commercial movie with a well known star; I have learnt my lesson!”