Hello people who don’t reside in India and have no clue what this title refers to! So this is by far one of the longest posts in recent times. If you don’t have the strength/time/patience to read the whole thing, you may skip to the end, I have zero problems!
So recently(about a week ago, I think), this movie titled Kapoor and Sons, Since 1921 released here in India. The trailers all showed that it was about a typical Indian family, with two sons, an extremely adventurous grandfather, and an overly bubbly girl-next-door.
Now, the two brothers are played by Indian actor Siddharth Malhotra, and his elder brother, Rahul is played by Pakistani actor Fawad Khan. Now, a few things about FK: We, the Indian crowd saw him first in Pakistani serials, (and no, Indians and Pakistani’s do not hate each other), and more importantly, FK is a god given hot bomb who whenever he comes on screen makes you want to tear his clothes off; not even kidding. See for yourself:
So, now since I’ve hopefully got everyone’s attention, I’ll get down to the actual point of this post.
Rahul, played by Fawad Khan is a model son. He has a perfect life in London where he’s a novelist with a bestseller and a possible second on the way. He also has a perfect girlfriend, or so it seems. This is the beauty of the movie. Rahul is in fact, gay! Gay character in Bollywood? Surely enough criticism would be received for this, for obvious reasons. However, Kapoor and Sons and Fawad Khan, showcase brilliantly how homosexuality is completely normal and a part of our society.
Now, I could sit and write pages, and pages about this, but I shall control myself for the sake of anyone who reads my posts. I have also read a million articles about Fawad Khan, his character and his overall brilliance since I saw the movie. So, instead of reviewing his amazingly well played character myself, here’s what I’ll do;
- In his latest interview, Fawad opened up about his character in the film and raised some of the most sensible points.
He said: “Everyone has a tendency to be gay. But this movie is not about sexuality. It is just about a family that is trying to sort out their differences. A friend of mine gave me the example of Zia Mohyeddin, who is a very famous Pakistani actor who once played the role of a eunuch in one of his films. At a time when eunuchs were mocked in the society. So it was a very bold move. Mohyeddin thought that a normal person will get interested in a movie if the content is good. That interest would get heightened if one put an anomaly in it, like the unlikely character of a eunuch in a plot.”
India Times, March 27th.
- It takes a lot for Bollywood to not mess up a character or a setting with any homosexual undertones. So it is no surprise that Kapoor and Sons is making us cry out in joy for getting it right. For a change however, it isn’t just the break from mediocre Bollywood depictions of gay characters that we are celebrating. In the (never-ending) times of Section 377, here’s a film that has a completely self-aware gay character. One who is not the only point of drama in the film. But is his personal turmoil more significant than the problems the other members face? The film doesn’t judge. And that’s the beauty of it. Kapoor and Sons normalises homosexuality by portraying Rahul’s character to be just as troubled as everyone else’s in the film. A cheating husband, a jealous wife, a lonely grandfather, a lonelier young woman, a wronged brother and a struggling artist, all come together in this film to rid Rahul’s story of stigma. We are all dysfunctional and far from perfect, the film seems to say, while establishing that imperfection is okay. Not once is Rahul Kapoor called “gay” or “homosexual”. And with zero labels, Kapoor and Sons showcases his character in the most human way. And yes, that is indeed a feat worth celebrating.
Catch News, March 22nd.
- Sorry, I am not exaggerating when I say Fawad Khan is absolutely perfect, from his jawline to his brooding looks. Even if you are a dyed-in-the-wall Dawkinian atheist, his very existence will make you wonder if there’s a higher being. Surely, evolution, a random process, couldn’t come up with a creature this divine. It’s not just his acting in the movies. A female buddy described a chance encounter where she couldn’t stop gushing about everything Fawad, from his perfect sartorial sense to the way he pays attention when someone’s talking.
But this isn’t about Fawad the person, it’s about his role in Kapoor and Sons. For too long Bollywood has helped perpetuate the worst clichés about gay people, as if a limp wrist and a career in fashion designing are prerequisites for homosexual men. Speaking about Fawad’s role, filmmaker Karan Johar said, “His energy in Kapoor and Sons is so magnetic. I have to say that he took up a role which many actors were worried to do, but it takes a brave man to play a brave part and brave part to make a brave film.” Fawad’s portrayal will go a long way in reinforcing that being gay is just like any other arbitrary characteristic trait like our skin colour, hair colour, height or weight. That gay people are just people and that doesn’t make them any less of a brother or son. It’s impossible for anyone who saw the movie to come away thinking that being gay is some sort of aberration or a crime, particularly in that scene where Fawad says to his mother when coming out: “How can I apologise for being me?” Think of the impact this will have on every family which comes to the theatre. If nothing else, it will help start a conversation. It is worth remembering that Fawad Khan comes from a nation where, like in India, it’s illegal to be gay, but looks far more harshly towards LGBT rights, refusing its existence and where a combination of Islamic and colonial laws make life very hard for the community.
DNA, March 26th.
- When Rahul’s mother discovers he’s gay she breaks down and wonders what she’s done to deserve a son ‘like him.’ This is an opportunity to push an intelligent message and Kapoor and Sons seizes it. It’s an all-too-real tableau that many gay men in South Asia are forced to enact. In the absence of informed, non-judgemental conversations about male sexuality in mainstream Indian media and in the home it’s plausible that gay men of Indian origin abroad find it easier to keep questions of marriage at bay with vague mentions of entanglements with foreign women rather than with open admissions of gayness. Fawad plays a gay man minus the cliched camp that heteronormative Bollywood typically saddles gay characters with. The effect is that Kapoor and Sons places Rahul’s personhood before his sexual orientation, allowing him the complexity films so often deny non-mainstream characters. Fawad Khan playing a gay man is a game changer not only because his star power will draw attention to the difficult negotiations of being a gay man. What’s really key in his accepting the role is that Kapoor and Sons challenges notions of ‘ideal’ masculinity by casting a popular sex symbol as a gay man.
Images Dawn, March 20th
- First, muster your Bollywood GK to picture a man called Rahul Kapoor in a mainstream Hindi film. Here’s what you see: a straight north Indian man, chasing his lady love down gardens and dance floors with one song too many. He also breaks a nose or two now and then to remind his audience that he ticks off the ‘protector box’ in the ‘ideal Bollywood man’ checklist. Now meet Rahul Kapoor in Shakun Batra’s Kapoor & Sons. Suave, soft spoken, the peacemaker in the family, perfect and gay. Rahul’s sexual orientation in the film is one of the many subplots in Kapoor and Sons, almost like that one story of the many stories that make up a real family. The life Rahul, played by Khan, leads in the film closely mirrors those of many gay men I know. It’s not one that could be called a double life by any measure, but one, in which various aspects of it have be kept at a distance from each other.
The Huffington Post, India, March 22nd.
If you read all of this, or even a small part of it, THANK YOU SO MUCH AND HERE’S YOUR REWARD
There’s no knowing how India and it’s people will progress after Fawad Khan and his flawless character gets accepted by the community. However, there is no denying that India needs to move out of it’s stereotypical approach towards the LGBT community and move more along the lines of the developed nations of the world.
In all honesty, if you read this, thank you so much because even some of my bestest friends are homophobic and there’s probably zero people who would ever stand up for the LGBT community, and by reading this I sure hope people begin to change just a tiny miny bit.
If you didn’t read this, and just skipped to the last line here, at least have a look at the pictures.