Will continue to wear my identity with pride: Filmmaker Onir

Kolkata, Jan 17 (PTI) Filmmaker Onir Dhar, who broke new ground in LGBTQ representation with his directorial debut My brother… Nikhil’, is not quite sure why his talk at the Bhopal literary fest was cancelled at the last minute, but he asserted that he wouldn’t do anything to fit into other people’s brackets and continue to wear his identity with pride.

Dhar rued the lack of support from his industry colleagues on the matter.

“Someone asked me if this (talk cancellation) was a repercussion of my tweet on the controversy over Besharam’ song from Pathaan’. I don’t like the song, but I will speak up for something that is wrong. I don’t see my colleagues commenting. I have had a few people inboxing me, and I am like… Your love in the inbox means nothing, if you cannot come out and stand by me out in the open.”

The director, who was here to participate in Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival, noted that people in India still struggle to talk about their identities, even when they are in empowered positions.

Dhar, who documented his journey from Bhutan to Kolkata and then Germany and Mumbai in his memoir I am Onir & I am Gay’, said, “While growing up, I did not know the word for the longest time. There were no references of my life in films, literature, advertisements or science. I felt the need to put it out there somewhere. I have had people click pictures of the book at airports and bookstores to say that I make them feel proud about themselves.”

Dhar, however, clarified the book, co-authored with his sister Irene Dhar Malik, isn’t just about his sexuality but talks about his childhood, his experiences as a filmmaker, and the challenges he encountered while making movies.

“My sister had once taken me to a film festival in Kolkata’s Ice Skating Rink, where I watched Charulata’ and The French Lieutenant’s Woman’. Consciously or subconsciously, I had then decided that I wanted to make films,” he said.

The author noted that living in the closet is often glorified in the film industry.

“There are some who say that they don’t want to come out by choice. I want to see one straight person who had to make that choice. If it’s thrust upon me, I don’t think that is a choice. It’s problematic. Staying in the closet should not be celebrated,” the director, who won National Award for his anthology I Am’, underlined.