Swara Bhasker’s short film, Sheer Qorma, themed on homosexuality, had its world premiere at the San Francisco International LGBTQ+ Film Festival recently. It has also won the Best Short Film Audience Award at the recent 34th Connecticut LGBT Film Festival. The 33-year-old actor says that the LGBTQ+ community, especially in Indian mainstream cinema, has been represented in a stereotypical way, and believes it is important to change it. Excerpts from an interview:
Sheer Qorma premiered at the San Francisco International LGBTQ+ Film Festival. How validating is that as an artist?
I think it’s wonderful for the whole team. I knew right when I read the script that this was a special project. I always knew that this was a story that had to be told. Being a straight person, the emotional pull of the film resonates with me. So I was aware that the film will not only connect with the LGBTQI+ community but also with others too. I feel honoured and gratified as an artist to be part of the film.
Do you think in recent years filmmakers have become sensitive in representing the LGBTQI+ community on screen, or are they still being insular?
Things are definitely changing and that’s primarily because the community itself has become more vocal and more assertive than ever before. A huge part in that and in heightened awareness has been played by social media which enables us to hear the voices of people of different identities and orientations directly. Even regular users are participating in a conversation that is being able to listen to many voices.
What kind of role does cinema or films play in starting a dialogue on the topic of homosexuality?
I think cinema and popular culture can play a huge role in normalising the realities of our society. And that can go both ways. Just the way in which perhaps unwittingly Bollywood films played a role in normalising stalking and casual eve-teasing, on the positive note, Hindi cinema has supported secular principles and the idea of love beyond class, caste, religion, language. One of the first things that can bring about change is the way we represent the community over the years and this can happen when we have more participation from the community itself. I believe Bollywood can help normalise being homosexual or gender fluid.
Is there anything that can be done to change the stereotypical image of the LGBTQ community in films?
Yes. We can stop derogatory stereotypical representations of the community for mindless laughs or convenient sensationalism or titillation.
How does the road look ahead for films dealing with the topic of LGBTQ?
I hope it looks good. If we have talented and passionate filmmakers like filmmaker Faraz Ansari telling beautiful impactful tales like Sheer Qorma, the road surely looks interesting.