In an historic first for LGBT Indian cinema, My Son is Gay has just been approved, without cuts or edits, for release in India by the Central Board of Film Certification. The film is the first gay-themed film ever to be released in the Tamil-language, which is spoken in the country’s conservative southern region. My Son is Gay screened in October at NewFest: NYC LGBT Film Festival.
Originally, the film was slated to be made in the Hindi language, which is spoken in the somewhat more progressive northern region of the country. However, after crowdfunding and investments dried up, writer/director Lokesh Kumar made the decision to make the film in Tamil. In the 100 years of Tamil cinema’s history, this will be the first film ever to deal with gay issues. The acclaimed film follows the journey of a mother coming to terms with her newly-out gay son.
The fact that the film has received a U/A certificate by India’s film censors, is an enormous step, as the certification rates the film as acceptable for all audiences over the age of 12. The filmmakers were “happily shocked” by the certification considering that homosexuality had been illegal only months before.
On August 26, LGBT Indians celebrated as the country’s Supreme Court reversed its own 2013 decision, and ruled that homosexuality was a matter of privacy and, as such, was a fundamental right. During a harrowing four years, from 2013 to August 26, 2017, under the antiquated Section 377 ruling which cites homosexuality as “against the order of nature,” many LGBT Indians lived in fear of persecution and prison.
It was under these conditions that My Son is Gay was made, underscoring the immense hurdles the filmmakers had to navigate. Similarly, the 2015 Mumbai gay road movie, Loev, was also made in these conditions. Produced in English, with some Hindi, Loev gained acclaim outside of India, playing at Austin’s SXSW festival and premiering worldwide in May on Netflix.
My Son is Gay will premiere in India at the 11th edition of Dialogues, the annual Calcutta International LGBT Film and Video Festival, in Kolkata on November 25. A North American release has not yet been announced.