Shelly Chopra Dhar, the director of India’s first mainstream LGBT+ film, Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, says she hopes the Bollywood movie will open people’s hearts and minds in India.
Ek Ladki Ko Dekha stars Bollywood actor Sonam Kapoor as Sweety, a young girl struggling with her sexuality in a patriarchal, conservative society. The film explores her romantic relationship with another woman, Kuhu (Regina Cassandra), and the intolerance towards same-sex relationships, particularly from her own family—including her father, who is played by Kapoor’s own dad, Bollywood legend Anil Kapoor.
“I, myself, am the parent of a gay child, and I personally went through the experience of learning my child was gay, and then how do you deal with it?” Chopra Dhar tells PinkNews.
Watch the interview with Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga director Shelly Chopra Dhar:
“We grow up with these paradigms we’ve been taught as children… if you give a child a piece of paper and crayon and say, ‘Draw a happy family,’ it will be one little house, one daddy, one mummy, one brother, one sister. And we grow up believing happiness can only be achieved if we achieve this picture,” she adds.
However, Chopra Dhar hopes to challenge that perception of the nuclear family with Ek Ladki Ko Dekha by showing an otherwise typical Indian family coming to terms with one of their children being gay. “Nothing changes. Love is the same,” says Chopra Dhar.
Ek Ladki Ko Dekha director: Section 377 repeal hasn’t changed people’s attitudes
Six months before the release of Ed Ladki Ko Dekha, India repealed Section 377 of the penal code, criminalising gay sex. This means that same-sex couples are now free to be in relationships without legal obstruction.
But, says Chopra Dhar, more work is needed to change prevailing attitudes towards homosexuality within Indian society.
“Just because the article doesn’t exist today, it doesn’t mean overnight people’s attitudes have changed. We need to keep working on that—it’s a bucket that gets filled up slowly, drop by drop,” says the filmmaker.
“This film is nothing more than that drop in the bucket. We don’t know when that bucket is going to be full, but we all have to continue to contribute.”
Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga is in cinemas worldwide now.