Monica Dogra: LGBT community unclear about my project

After facing criticism on social media for asking fans to crowdfund Rs.50 lakhs for her art project titled "Shiver", singer-actress Monica Dogra thinks people aren't clear about the details of her project.

Monica Dogra
Monica Dogra

“...I don't think that the LGBT community is completely clear on all the intricacies of this project because it was just too much information to include in the first campaign page. I really didn't think that it was necessary, that, of course I realised was untrue, and that they would like all of the details to be revealed,” Monica told IANS over phone from Mumbai.

She also remarked that if it's okay to spend “tens of crores” on Bollywood films then Rs.50 lakhs is not a big sum for an art project aimed at empowering the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community.

“...I think it's important to ask why it's okay to spend tens of crores on Bollywood films and songs but it's not okay to have a (Rs.)50 lakhs project of a music video and art inspiration on transgender visibility,” said Monica, who has appeared in films like “Dhobi Ghat” and “The Spectacular Jihad of Taz Rahim".

The project, which aims to “take on the double-fold agenda" of mainstreaming transgender representation in pop culture and also to take on the gender binaries that exist and destroy them, will employ members from the LGBT community.

The 32-year-old actress says she has spoken to people from the community and they are "excited" about it.

“Some of the details I will not be revealing but many of them will be clarified through interviews such as this. The amount of money that I'm asking for which is the budget of Rs.50 lakhs, which is our goal and it includes the music video, the art inspiration along with the live performances which ultimately will employ members of the LGBT community as equal partners in this video," she quipped.

Monica, who is one half of the electronic duo Shaa'ir and Func, said the budget isn't as excessive as it is believed to be.

“From what I understand, there is a sentiment that this is like a completely exorbitant and unjust amount of money to ask for but that's an assumption that I'd like to collapse because anyone who works in mainstream entertainment reproduction can testify that the amount of money that it costs to produce work at such a high level -- Rs.50 lakhs is actually not a large budget at all," she said.

For Monica, "Shiver" is her way of contributing to a human rights movement and she doesn't know why it was “misinterpreted”.

“From the inception of this project my only intention was contributing to human rights activism through something that I feel really passionate about. I don't understand how that could possibly be misinterpreted,” she said.

As a citizen of India, Monica feels it's important for her to stand up for human rights.

“I've not been marginalised to the extent of the LGBT community. I have not had birth rights revoked as a result of my sexual orientation but as an empathetic and connected citizen of India, I have a responsibility to stand up for human rights,” she said.

Stressing that her association with the LGBT community has been long standing, Monica, who was invited for a panel discussion on improving mainstream visibility on transgenders here, said that the assumption is "completely false."

“I think that the biggest issue is that there is a very wrong assumption that my association and communication with the LGBT community has only just begun... But I want to reiterate that's a false assumption and it's just not true," she said.

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