A take on same sex relationship stories on TV

Section 377: Has the TV industry failed the LGBT community?

Same sex relationships have been decriminalized. The world has erupted in joy, and the media & entertainment industry has also come out in support of it. Star India is running an impressive campaign hailing the power of love.

Well done, a round of applause.

However, there is a caveat. All the post-judgement hullaballoo makes us think- has the TV industry failed the LGBT community in terms of depicting stories that could have led to winds of change? Could have led to awareness building? Could have helped in earlier decision making?

Television, as a medium, is indeed powerful; and with its mammoth reach, has a Herculean impact on people’s lives. What people see, they believe…and often mimic. Good breeds good, bad breeds bad.

The decision has been welcomed by one and all, including content creators from the industry. Let’s check out some comments our editorial team has gathered:

Sandiip Sikcand, noted writer/producer says, “I think it is a remarkable judgement that the Supreme Court has made. We want to live in an India that is liberal; that thinks for the future, and lives with the times. This is absolutely fantastic. It is about India giving a right to live; about giving everybody the freedom to live and love with whom he / she likes.”

Young Krishna Bhatt, director at VB on the Web, opines: “Section 377 was redundant and uneducated. Love has no barriers, be it age, cast or gender. India has finally acknowledged and applauded the courage of the LGBT to love. The Supreme Court has made a historical ruling. Love is love, and each and every one of us should understand that.”

We spoke to a few more people and gauged that the overall sentiment was that of happiness and liberty, which we concur.

Krishna’s company, VB on The Web, recently depicted a lesbian relationship in one of its shows. However, it was aired on the digital platform. Web entertainment, on and off, has made attempts to display relationship contours and challenges of same sex relationships (Romil & Jugal on ALTBalaji). Television, on the other hand, has tip-toed around the subject.

Talking more about it, the biggest concern is stereotype. An effeminate newspaper editor or a fashion designer is what the writers often sketch, mostly to add comic relief. The impression of Kanta ben is what we are left with.

Years back, Zee TV show, Lipstick, had a lovemaking scene between a film magazine editor’s husband and another man. Gay characters found space in shows like Mahi Ve, Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin, Roshesh from Sarabhai vs Sarabhai, all touched briefly and surreptitiously on the topic of homosexuality.

Full-fledged relationships were shown in Maryada, Pyaar Ki Yeh Ek Kahaani, Kaisi Yeh Yaariaan among others. Colors’ show, Shakti, revolves around the life of a transsexual.

Though a relevant and pertinent issue in the society, there is no point denying that the TV industry has failed to depict powerful stories that reflect the lives, ambitions, struggles of the LGBT community. We are yet to have an ‘Aligarh’ on TV. Creators have been skirting around the subject, but have largely shown reluctance to take a full dive – could be due to fear or lack of knowledge or intent.

Now that Section 377 is the talk of the hour, we bet plans have rolled out for stories around them; but in this battle of dignity, one of the most powerful mediums of communication and interaction has chosen to shadow box, which is a palpable, sad reality.

Here’s quoting Ssumier Pasricha to sum up the opinion piece: “First of all, it’s time to celebrate the much-awaited decision which has been taken and Sec 377 has been knocked down. Now it’s our duty to spread the word through education in schools, and amongst every sector of society to accept homosexuality openly and not look down upon or make fun of it. It’s also the responsibility of all the GECs to take up the task to include stories from their point of view to educate people about homosexuality through their programmes.  Let people know that it’s okay to be different, and that we must accept all. Let’s not ban gay content from TV; rather, let’s show the clear and right picture, so that love remains love and not gets differentiated for their personal sake. Then only nayi soch will have its true meaning, Colors will not just be a logo but a symbol of true love, and Zee, Sony will not just be channels but platforms of real life relationships.

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