To sound presumptuous, Bollywood has always highlighted male friendship in an obviously gay manner. Or probably we hadn’t known about homosexuality as much back then. But if you revisit certain Bollywood movies, even classics the gay angle cannot be mistaken. The filmmakers may have never known male friendships because I haven’t ever seen the kind of male friendships that they chose to portray on screen. Right from Jai-Veeru in Sholay to the trio in Dil Chahta Hai, there have been several such male bonding exercises that have been dubious; maybe not the latter but certainly some in the not so distant past. If you remember Silsila and a scene earlier in the movie when brothers Amitabh and Shashi Kapoor are bathing together; yup! You heard that right and when one of them drops the soap and the other asks him to get it. He almost does and then pauses and slyly smiling says, Bhai, Main Nahee Uthaoonga. Many didn’t get that joke back then. You will now if you know that one when they warn you that if you drop a coin in San Francisco, don’t pick it up.
Due to lack of quality releases and relatively much free time these days, I was watching an oldie, Yaarana starring Amitabh Bachchan and Amjad Khan in an immortal bond of friendship that seeks to be remembered through the ages much like Romeo & Juliet. Except they are closer to each other than Romeo & Juliet and often walk around the village hand-in-hand while the simple villagers sing paeans to their ‘deep friendship’; no pun intended. They are childhood friends and often consult each other on even trivial matters, like boxers or briefs; ok, I made that up but you get the picture regardless of how weird it might be. Of course, one has to be richer; much richer than the other to somehow fulfill the cardinal rule of Bollywood friendships. There are numerous instances in the movie when you get the strange Brokeback feeling and I was rolling on the floor laughing at even the simple dialogues that they would utter like, Kishan idhar aa aur nikaal. Now, how can you not laugh at that especially when they mouth dialogues that they would give their life for each other and cry all night long when one is about to leave for the city? I am not deliberating berating Yaarana for being too gay but if you take a look at it now, you will definitely understand what I am talking about.
Probably it was a more innocent time back then because in recent times, an Akshay-Bobby starrer Dosti hit the screen sometime this past December and was instantly panned by the critics as Gay-watch because guys simply don’t bond the way they show in the movies. Of course, we see guys holding hands and walking with their arms around their shoulder all the time even in the rural parts but somehow now such a visual instantly sets off the gay alarm for me. I might be corrupted but I may be right too. And nothing wrong in that either.
Full disclosure: I fully endorse gay rights including their right to marry and to adopt children.
Update: If you thought I saw Bollywood through rainbow-tinted glasses and offended your innocence, take a look at 100% Indian-bred Jabberwock’s analysis of Dharam-Veer. What’s more, Turbanhead has stills from a oh-so gay song from the movie.