Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan director: Wanted to play on front foot
Addressing homophobia in Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, director Hitesh Kewalya discusses why he didn't shy away from including the kiss between leads in the trailer.
At the very start of the chat, writer-director Hitesh Kewalya admits that he faced more than a fair share of resistance with Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan. But the director had the perfect comeback for those who asked him why he was telling a same-sex love story in his maiden outing: "I would turn around and ask them, 'Why not?'"
Kewalya believes the Ayushmann Khurrana starrer is a much "required" film in today's times. "The gay community has rarely been portrayed with the dignity and respect they deserve. This film is made with the motive of appealing to as many people as possible. So, we've taken the route of humour. Laughter opens people up to difficult conversations," he reasons, adding that he spent a year developing the screenplay. "Every week, either Ayushmann or the producers would call and ask, picture bani kya? This film takes on homophobia; it holds a mirror to society and its need to box us into gender identities. How can we, as a society, pick out a certain kind of love and say that it must be banished? Why is this non-issue being made into an issue?"
While Sonam K Ahuja's Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (2019) was applauded for being Bollywood's first mainstream same-sex relationship drama, it was also criticised for not delving deep into the love story or showing physical intimacy between the leads. Though he hasn't seen the movie, Kewalya understands why one would be cautious while dealing with such delicate material. "People are scared despite the decriminalisation [of Section 377]. Sexuality is rarely discussed in films anyway. Initially, Ayushmann and Jitu [Jitendra Kumar] had their share of guffaws, but four scenes later, they were professionals and have created a couple that people will root for."
On his part, however, the writer-director has been assured in his depiction of same-sex love, not shying away from including the kissing scene between Khurrana and Kumar in the trailer. Fortunately, the Censor Board has cleared the scene in question. Ask him if he was in two minds about showcasing the kiss in the promo, and he asserts, "There was no question of hiding any bit of the film. We wanted to play on the front foot. Why shouldn't we? After Shubh Mangal Saavdhan [that he wrote the dialogues for], we understood the audience we were dealing with. We are sure about our story, and are going all out with the hope that society changes, one film at a time."
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