In a significant first, national broadcast channel NDTV is going to air a series about being queer in India.
Called “All About Section 377,” the series was first launched on YouTube in March this year, as 8 webisodes. Produced by The Creative Gypsy, and directed by Amit Khanna (who also plays the gay protagonist), the series is a situational comedy following a quirky group of individuals who share a flat together in Mumbai. And just the fact that it has multiple queer characters in it makes its television debut that much more special.
In the recent past, highly acclaimed films like “Aligarh” or “Kapoor and Sons” have brought queer identities into the fray for a vast number of Indian media consumers, but even then sensitive and full-bodied representations of LGBTQ people are hard to come by. One of the major advantages of releasing the series on YouTube was reaching out to a large audience, but national television is a whole other ball game.
Cake spoke to the show’s producer Gypsy Khera about NDTV picking up the series and what it means for queer visibility.
“I wanted it to be on air,” she says, “We wanted to have such a big platform. And they were kind enough and brave enough to support us.”
But getting to this stage was no cakewalk. In fact, before NDTV showed interest in the series, there were hardly any takers. “We approached everyone – a lot of web channels, other production houses,” Khera tells us. “Everybody liked it. I didn’t get any negative comments from anyone, but when it came to being associated with it no one was ready.”
When asked why this was, she said it was the subject matter that threw most people off. There continues to be a lot of hesitation to engage with homosexuality, and Khera says this was evident even while casting – “Amit khanna is the director as well as the main actor, because no one else wanted to do the role.”
But if the idea behind creating this show is to hack away at those hesitations and inhibitions, then having NDTV on board really is a big deal. However, given the subject matter, one wonders how “All About Section 377” is going to deal with India’s censor board.
Only last month the Central Board of Film Certification threw its weight against a music video by Delhi-based band Friends of Linger, simply because it featured a same-sex couple.
“There’s no nudity, no sex scenes,” says Khera. “We’ve beeped out some of the words, and removed some of the scenes, and it didn’t detract from the show. There are no gandi galis, we’re not degrading women. There’s nothing you can’t sit and watch with your friends and family.”
While the release date of “All About Section 377” on NDTV is yet to be finalized, Khera says it will be no later than December. And for those who have already been following the show on YouTube, there’s even more good news in the form of a second season. Now, this may or may not be aired on NDTV just yet. But Khera assures us that it will be out on the web for sure.