So far, in Tamil cinema, the topic of homosexuality hasn’t either been touched upon much or has been treated rather insensitively. In fact, a gay/ lesbian character has often been shown in a comical way in many films. In order to change this perspective, young filmmaker Lokesh Kumar has come up with a project, My Son is Gay, which stars Anupama Kumar, Kishore, Jayaprakash, Abhishek George , Ashwinjith and Sriranjani in pivotal roles.
The project, which is touted to be Tamil’s first ever gay-themed film, has been getting a great reception in the international arena including at the Melbourne Film Festival and at The NYC LGBT Film Festival (New York). In a chat with us, Lokesh shares about the project and the challenges involved in making it.
“Around 2012-13, I attended a queer film festival in Bengaluru. This event was kind of an eye-opener for me as I got to watch a lot of LGBTQ movies. I realised that we don’t have many Tamil films on this topic and in a lot of our movies, homosexual characters are only shown in a comical way. I wanted to change this perception and started working on this project,” starts Lokesh.
Speaking about how difficult it was to generate funds to make the film, the 28-year-old says, “First, I was skeptical if the film would work in Tamil — I didn’t know if it would be feasible, budget-wise. So we actually thought of first making the project in Hindi, but after shooting just for a day, we decided to shelve the project due to various reasons. We then thought we could make the film in Tamil through crowdfunding; though there was a decent response, we couldn’t achieve the target we had set. So we gave back the money, which we got through the campaign.”
He goes on to add, “Thankfully, that’s when a few ‘angel’ investors/ co-producers decided to step in and help us. Anil Saxena, an Indian based in the US, was the first person to come forward to help us. And last year, Cyril D’Souza, another producer also got interested in the project and helped us. Apart from them, actress Anupama Kumar also worked like a co-producer.”
Heaping more praises on Anupama and the rest of the cast, he says, “Right from the day we kick-started the project, Anupama, who is playing one of the leads, has more than just been an actor. She also donned several other hats, including being the co-director. Other seasoned actors including Kishore sir and Jayaprakash sir, who play important roles, have been really supportive. The gay characters in the movie, Abhishek George of Demonte Colony fame and debutant Ashwinjith have also given wonderful performances. It’s heartwarming that most of the cast and crew agreed to act for no/ minimal remuneration.”
When we ask him what kind of a movie it has shaped to be, he says, “We’ve taken a neutral stand; it’s a conscious decision. In Tamil, it’s hard to treat this subject just like any other mainstream project because even now, a lot of people don’t have any understanding of who a ‘gay’ person is. So, in the beginning of the film itself, we give a clear picture of who these people are — and I didn’t mind even being preachy. I just want this film to start a discussion. It would create the right impact among parents, teenage kids and homophobic people.”
On a concluding note, the director speaks about the film’s reception in international festivals and his future projects. “Both in Melbourne and New York, the response was very good. The audience could connect with the film and got emotional — it helped me realise how this topic has a worldwide appeal. It will next be screened in Kolkata at Dialogues: Calcutta International LGBT Film & Video Festival. The movie will most probably have a theatrical release next year and my upcoming project would be an action thriller,” Lokesh takes leave....