Bollywood, loved by millions for its opulence, melodramatic storylines and long dance sequences, still has a long way to go in representing people’s real life experiences.
Its queer representation, for example, is sorely lacking. That’s why filmmaker Shiva Raichandani set out to change the narrative, delivering the dynamism of India’s biggest film company, but with gay, trans and non-binary portrayals centered in their short film, Queer Parivaar.
The 28-year-old London director and actor released the short last month, selling tickets to BFI Flare, showcasing the best in queer cinema. And he’s gained a solid following ever since.
Queer Parivaar follows the story of couple Madhav and Sufi (with Madhav played by Raichandani) on their wedding day, when they are interrupted by a mysterious guest – Madhav’s lost grandmother.
The mother figure lovingly accepts the happy couple, revealing her own secrets that have ostracized her from the family.
Madhav, who had been cast out of their home – just like their grandparents – finds solace in the story, before the reunited family members rejoice in the celebrations, uniting family love with love of life. friendship and community.
“Growing up, I didn’t have many images of positive queer experiences in South Asia,” Raichandani tells HuffPost UK.
“A lot of our storytelling tends to revolve around sadness, trauma, violence, death, murder, and so it was a way to make way for joy, hope, celebration We also don’t speak or see enough queer South Asian seniors alive and proud, so bringing the cross-generational aspect was important to me.
The artist also emphasizes depicting the “mundane” aspects of normal life, saying, “Not everything about a trans person’s narrative needs to be heightened for drama. There is power in showing the mundane, the simple, the casual, the relaxed”.
The project was also for selfish reasons, admits Raichandani. “I didn’t grow up thinking that I would find or experience romantic love (and its celebration through occasions like marriage) and/or chosen families/support, etc.
“So it was a nice way to honor that fact that a lot of us don’t grow up dreaming of these things, because we’re constantly preoccupied with just existing, going through life, navigating through hetero-patriarchal pressures.”
Getting the project off the ground was no easy task either, with funding secured through fundraising and the pandemic halting filming twice. But ultimately it created over 120 jobs for people from marginalized backgrounds, featuring music from new and seasoned artists, weaving both Hindi and English into soundtracks.
Since the sale of tickets at the BFI, the film has also been actress endorsed Jameela Jamil.
And watching the actors dressed in traditional Indian wedding attire, being embraced by their families, meant a lot to his audience.
Social media has been abuzz since the trailer was released.
Raichandani adds that they are just happy to finally be able to bring their art to the world.
“I hope it brings people joy, hope and a sense of belonging,” Raichandani said. “This movie is not here to claim to be a representation of the entire LGBTQ+ community, it’s just a few experiences and if people feel they can relate to it or see themselves in it, then it’s beautiful. “
In April, Queer Parivaar will make its US premiere at Outfest Fusion. The film will also be screened at international festivals. More details on the screenings can be found on the Queer Parivaar website.