Indian cinema has seen different styles and genres of movies from Karan Arjun to Dilwale Dulhania Lejayenge to Dil Se, in the 1990s. Rahul and Raj turned into personal favourite names for a wide mass of Indians. Furthermore, it was also a primary time of queer activism in India. Because the first ever lesbian movie, Deepa Mehta’s Fire released in 1996. This movie depicted a sexual and romantic relationship between two Indian women.
In contrast with other blockbuster heteronormal movies, this one obviously received a violent response, and initiated debates on censorship in general. Especially, sexual minority rights.
Fire describes what homosexuality means through its dialogues, visulas and explains queerness. The protagonists go from denial to acceptance, sorrow to happiness. This flick shows the true meaning of “coming out”. However, the formula for visibility was redefined by the queer icon Falguni Pathak. She is a high-pitched, tomboyish singer, who gained fame with her debut Yaad Piya Ki Aane Lage. This album released in the same decade as Fire. Today let’s have a look at how her art speaks volumes about queerness.
The debut: Yaad Piya Ki Aane Lage
This album was fondly called as Chudi. The girls in the music video sport India’s reply to Sex and the City. In genuine Carrie Bradshaw way, Riya Sen wears outfit after outfit and ends her high glory moment wrapped in a towel. This is all you see, the first time you watch the music video. But later it becomes clear that Riya’s stylish outfits are not for any man, small or big.
The male model in the video consists of all the required 90s hero qualities. The unrequested advice, middle partition hair style and two t-shirts. He is – more than anything – irrelevant in the video. The true hero of this music video is obviously centrestage.
Her fame continues:
Falguni’s fame continued to keep the fire burning, in her mediocre Aiyyo Rama. This video gives us a mundane review of the era after liberalisation. It taught us that malls and balls is nothing but moh maya in this materialistic universe. And heterosexual chase is nothing but an accident, a life altering distraction from the real life.
Saawan mein, her lesser known work:
However, Saawan Mein, her lesser known piece of master art comments on the severe “heteropatriarchy”. This music video reveals heteronormativity in it’s real form: an unrequired and obviously anti-feminist competition, where the disadvantage is always with the non-male participants. Throughout the music video, the boys and girls take part in a series of contests – from bicycling to embroidery. Falguni Pathak obviously wants nothing to do with that nasty display. She waits at a safe distance and watches the growing stupidity, in the form of shattering pieces of many large matkas. This shattering of fragile matkas, may or may not be the metamorphic depiction of the male ego. Purely coincidental, for all we know (but we think not).
With her flamboyant style, Falguni demolishes the fourth wall. She changes from a star to our friend in her videos like Maine Payal Hai Chhankayi. In this, Falguni Pathak creates a new elaborate choreography for the boy-meets-girl style. She depicts the absolute uselessness of this variety in real life. Her team of artists go through a sequence of willful and unattractive accidents. These include paint, Pepsi and cotton – all over flowing. The male hero has very little to add up to these difficult situations. Except for umbrellas, bonsai type, and annoying its-all-part-of-life shrugs. Fortunately however, our female protagonist gets dependable support in Falguni and her group of buddies.
Pathak’s other works that shout ‘queer’:
In Indhana Winva, Falguni Pathak guides the next door girl to pull off a full blown drag performance for sake of her ignorant lover. Through her queer powers, she sports dazzling ensembles. All of which are inspired by classics such as Lady Marmalade and the gender queer rulers. When the girl comes in a ghagra-choli, we are made to understand that this is just another display of her flexible gender identity.
Meri Chunar Udd Udd Jaye, a music video ahead of its time:
Falguni Pathak let go off all confusion and delivered a perfect queer love story in Meri Chunar Udd Udd Jaye. This video features Ayesha Takia, her alienated partner Pathak and their companion illustration. The video kicks off as your regular fairytale, with our heroine trapped in a prison. This prison is an impenetrable and unbreakable fortress controlled by a matriarch. This love triangle is shockingly tender and fearless.
The destined lovers share a gentle relationship full of smiles and joys. Although, it is hard to grasp why they wear shoes on the wrists, it is perfectly alright to feel devastated at their split. When we almost believe that all hope is lost, Ayesha finds a new friend. This confidante literally jumps out of a painting, offers her a shoulder to cry and an ear to listen. Along with a hand for dancing.
A refreshing difference is, this man in the video is not only decorative but also a potential ally. Meri Chunar has the obvious same-sex context. So much that it gained a regular listing in the “top ten times India was mistakenly queer” category.
Falguni Pathak obviously succeeded in depicting a world where it was totally okay for women to love women, through her creative work. To dream of a life with them. To unabashedly want women. And most importantly, to accept and love ourselves for what we are.
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