Society must treat LGBT community with respect: Hansal Mehta
Mumbai : National Award-winning filmmaker Hansal Mehta, who is delighted at the Supreme Court striking down the law against homosexuality, has urged the society to practice the change by showing equal respect to the LGBT community.
Mehta, who directed the film "Aligarh" -- inspired by the real-life story of a professor who was suspended from his job because of his sexual orientation -- told IANS: "I am delighted to know the Supreme Court's judgment. The wordings of the judgment are very significant and humane in the present time to establish equality."
"I think this is just the beginning. It is our responsibility as a society to treat the LGBT community with equal respect," added the "Shahid" famed director.
According to Mehta, the court can only make rules and laws, but a change in society can come if people practice it.
"The majoritarian morality is not necessarily inclusive in our society and the problem is lying there. So I think the thought of the majority needs to change, needs to open up to build a society where equality is largely celebrated," he said.
Mehta's widely acclaimed film "Aligarh" features Manoj Bajpayee. It is based on the life story of Ramchandra Siras, a professor from the Aligarh Muslim University who was suspended from his job while caught in his room having consensual sex with another man.
Siras had once said: "I spent two decades here. I love my University. I have always loved it and will continue to do so no matter what. But I wonder if they have stopped loving me because I am gay."
Asked if the professor, who died in 2010, would have been happy to hear the verdict if he was alive today, the filmmaker said: " I think so. I mean that is precisely my point... Why it is important for the society to change the mindset on morality? You see, in 2010, Section 377 was decriminalised, but Professor Siras was ostracised by the institution before that because of the people.
"That largely shows, that keeping the law aside, if people will discriminate against one of the members of the society because of their consensual choices, then no court can change it. So the change has to come from us."
Recounting his experience of making "Aligarh", he said: "Making that film was surely an emotional journey for me, because anything that makes people isolated in present time, is the biggest tragedy to humanity. Why should we live in an unequal society?"
Considering how cinema is a medium that has a huge influence on people, after the verdict, does he feel there will be better representation of LGBT characters?
"Let's be fair... In the last couple of years, homosexuality has been represented without any stereotyping, with a lot of sensibilities. I mean in a mainstream Bollywood film, we have "Kapoor & Sons". If I have a plea to society to be inclusive, Bollywood also comes under that.
"So, of course, it includes my community... It includes all my fellow filmmakers," Mehta said.
(Arundhuti Banerjee can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)