India: Bollywood’s gay Romeo and Juliet back in production
Production has re-opened on ‘Romil and Jugal’, a gay Bollywood version of Romeo and Juliet believed to have been scrapped earlier this year. The project is being led by producer Ekta Kapoor, who is known for pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable to an Indian audience.
First announced in February, it was reportedly put on hold after India’s Censor Board of Film Certification (CBFC) deemed an early copy of the script too sensitive and controversial for a mass audience.
The script is now being rewritten, and production re-opened, in the hope that the Censor Board will allow the film to go ahead. Anu Menon, who co-wrote the initial script, has been replaced on the project by Ishita Moitra.
Moitra worked on Kapoor’s most recent film, ‘Ragini MMS 2’, a horror-thriller with adult content. It starred Sunny Leone, a former pornographic actress now working in mainstream Bollywood films, and was described as being at the forefront of a new genre mixing sex with horror, dubbed ‘horrex’.
Danish Aslam, who will be directing ‘Romil and Jugal’, said: “The script had to undergo some changes, which is why it got delayed. The film was never shelved. We’re back to the writing and almost close to the finish. Once the script [is] locked, we will start casting.”
It has been reported that the casting process will be aimed at undiscovered acting talent, as production team do not think established actors will want to take the risk involved.
Aslam described the film as “a mature love story about two men – something which hasn’t been properly attempted in Hindi cinema”, but said he couldn’t reveal when or where in India it would be set.
‘Romil and Jugal’ is not the only Bollywood film set to test the waters on the depiction of gay relationships on screen. ‘Margarita with a Straw’, due for release this month, shows a woman with cerebral palsy seeking to explore her new-found bisexuality.
Last year, Bollywood actors spoke out against the reintroduction of a law banning gay sex. In May, actress Sonam Kapoor told reporters at Cannes that this law contradicted India’s culture and said that Bollywood should show more same-sex relationships.