Breaking a taboo with a film

My Life Partner, described as one of the first Malayalam films to have a homosexual relationship at the centre of its plot, released recently. Director MB Padmakumar talks to Anu Prabhakar about the controversial movie

On the eve of the release of Malayalam movie My Life Partner, a film about two homosexual men who decide to bring a baby into their lives, debutante director MB Padmakumar was informed that only a few theatres in Kerala will screen his movie. The director talks about his struggle to get the movie released.

Q. What were some of the challenges you faced while releasing My Life Partner?
A. Apart from the multiplexes, other theatres refused to screen the movie because of the topic it dealt with. The Censor Board gave us a U/A certificate as it was a clean movie with a social message. But now, a few more theatres have decided to screen it, so let’s see. But a place like Kerala is still very narrow-minded. Honestly, I think I managed to get a producer for my movie only because he is Mumbai-based and has no real connection with Kerala.

A still from the movie My Life Partner

Q. What kind of research went into the making of the movie?
A. As part of research, I created fake profiles for myself and visited chat rooms meant for homosexuals. I spent a lot of time talking to them. We spoke about several issues like how Indian homosexual couples are not allowed to adopt and start a family and also, Section 377A. I also spoke to psychiatrists and incorporated their views in my film.

Q. The Supreme Court verdict on Section 377 of the IPC came after you wrapped up shooting. Were you scared about the fate of your movie?
A. No, because I believe this topic needs to be discussed. The men in my film, for instance, want to strengthen their relationship and to them, the only way to do that is by having a child. So one of them, a bisexual, marries a woman, who later comes to know about the homosexual relationship. The other day, I read in the newspaper that two men, whose relationship was discovered by one of their wives, killed themselves. This is what’s happening in our society today.

Director MB Padmakumar

Q. The gay characters in the movie have had disturbing childhoods. Isn’t it misleading to show only two people, both severely flawed, in a homosexual relationship?
A. The characters present only a cross section of the society. But the main message of my movie is that homosexuality in a man or woman is not something that needs to be ‘changed’. The society has no say in such matters.

Q. Your movie does not show the physical aspect of the relationship. As a result, online, people have mistaken the movie to be about ‘bromance’. Do you think you may have copped out?
A. When I first thought about making the movie, I wanted to make it in a very bold way and show the relationship in its entirety. But like I said before, Kerala will take a long time to accept such a movie.

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