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Monday, June 21, 2004

Community - Planet Out / Lesbian-themed film in India stirs anger

Community - Planet Out

Lesbian-themed film in India stirs anger
Tue Jun 15, 8:25 PM ET Add Community - Planet Out to My Yahoo!

Ben Townley, Gay.com U.K.

SUMMARY: The Bollywood film industry was shaken on Monday after a cinema in the Indian city of Bombay was attacked for showing a new lesbian-themed movie.

The Bollywood film industry was shaken on Monday after a cinema in the Indian city of Bombay was attacked for showing a new lesbian-themed movie.

Far-right Hindu extremists protested outside the cinema after it showed "Girlfriend," the first Bollywood film to deal with lesbian issues.

The angry members of the Shiv Sena party, mostly students, smashed windows and burnt effigies in the street, press reports claim, saying they were disgusted at the film for depicting a relationship between two women.

While India's film industry is the biggest in the world, it mainly shows straightforward love stories that are tame by Western standards.

"What one does in the bedroom and bathroom should not be displayed publicly," Shiv Sena leader Arun Pathak told the Reuters news agency. "We'll not allow such a film to be screened."

However, Indian authorities have deployed police Tuesday to ensure those wishing to view the film are not restricted. They hope that such a presence will stop any more protests from taking place.

Gay cinema has had a turbulent past in India, where issues surrounding sexual diversity are still taboo. Earlier this year, an Indian film depicting gay men and drag queens premiered in the United Kingdom, after it was banned in its home country.

Sridhar Rangaihn, director of the banned film, "Pink Mirror," said he hoped the U.K. showing of the film would help expose the "contract of silence" that the country's lesbian and gay population are forced to endure.

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