Tamil cinema: Sighting the elephant in the room!
  So Tamil cinema has successfully come out of the closet by portraying two gay men as regular couple without making a mockery of alternate sexuality; are we finally sensitized to such social issues? Sensitization is one thing, the fact that we have been closeted to the whole idea of homosexuality, while still ignorant to the strong undercurrent of such themes existing since time unknown in our movies, is astoundingly real.

As a nation, our sensibilities on male bonding creep to the level of same-sex attraction shattering the fine balance existing between male – male straight friendship and homosexuality. And Tamil movies have, from time unknown, been unintentionally portraying such friendships – often weird but they existed since people who watched it would have had no clue about the whole deal altogether.

As a Gen-X or Gen-Y civilian you might now find it odd to see two men / women holding hands together, walking down the streets, leaning onto each other’s shoulders in public or hugging each other from behind. For you will find it gay. But wait, you have watched it all the same in our movies forever: a
bare-chest friend resting on the chest of another bare-chest friend while sharing a smoke and lip-synching to the lyrics of ‘Mustafa Mustafa’ about the greatness of friendship or Sivaji and Balaji holding hands and singing to the tunes of ‘Naan Paartha Pennai’ about their respective loves.

As my friend and reader Sharmila points out, the love between two male friends sometimes supersedes the love they have for their women. As is demonstrated in the case of Moondru Mudichu where Kamal and Rajini’s friendship surpass the love they share for their women. There is an undeniable, and strong nevertheless, undercurrent of such instance when Rajini goes ballistic about Kamal seeing the gal he has his eyes on. But the issue is not that: Kamal refuses to believe Sridevi because he apparently hero-worships Rajini. The strong emotional bond shared between the lead men often crosses all the written rules of friendship between two straight men in the ‘Tamil cinema’ context.

And not to mention, the lyrics ‘Natpai Kooda Karpai Pola Ennuven’ goes on to demonstrate that the hero (and we all know, it’s the lyricist) equates friendship with chastity. It’s a case of stretching things too far but it existed all the same in our movies of heroes we idolize(d). Vettaiyadu Vilayadu had strong homosexual references but it’s a different case altogether; portraying two homosexuals as criminals who have sex with women is misleading.

Such instances are aplenty not only in Tamil movies but in Bollywood as well.

So why are we celebrating Goa as a coming of age movie? Because Venkat Prabhu dared. Dared enough to poke at our sensibilities to wake us up from the self-imposed homophobia. Unintentionally, he has also opened up new avenues for discussions about alternate sexuality openly, and not to mention millions of opinions. For instance, my colleague found it god-awful and disturbing to see two men hugging each other and running an all-men household family together. “What will happen to our values,” he said.

PS: (For hate mailers: the movies referred to here are only indicative and taken as examples from a cross-section of Tamil movies)

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