Inspirational: Celebrating diversity
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Inspirational: Celebrating diversity

 

Inspirational: Celebrating diversity

Published on :26 May,2017

Sponsored by : Nexa Peaks Auto


Rayat Bahra University

Mumbai:
The crowd at Kashish 2017, Asia’s largest queer film festival in Mumbai, is a rainbow of diversities. What started as a small collection of films that aired once a year, has grown exponentially over the past seven years. This year’s edition kicked off on Thursday evening, with music, dancing and inspirational speeches and will continue till May 28 at Liberty Cinema and Alliance Francaise de Bombay.

RJ Malishka crooned and Mr Gay World, Sushant Divgikar rocked the stage in shimmer and high heels. Writer-producer Navin Noronha and his partner-in-crime, comedian Nick Pillow, had the audience in splits with their jokes. As the evening wound down, curious first-timers mingled with the veterans at the festival.

A first-timer at the festival, Kushid Pillai caught the eye in his pink kurta, shawl and heavy silver jewellery. “It’s amazing and inspiring to see so many people and hear the kinds of stories that they have to share. At the same time, it’s also a bit overwhelming to find so many people all in one place to celebrate this event,” he says.  Faraz Arif Ansari, on the other hand, was attending the festival for the fourth time, only this time he had a short film airing on Sunday. “We’ve made India’s first silent LGBT film, and we just won the best film award at the Boston Film Festival. We’re also going to be closing Pride Week in Sweden. We’re opening on Sunday, and we’re very excited since this is going to be the Indian premiere of my film,” he gushes.

Though the second morning of the festival did not see the kind of numbers that the first day did, there were quite a few film buffs who made it, despite the early hour and the fact that it's still on a weekday. Sociology and film buff Farida Meher, who is filling her post-retirement life with culture and studies, says, “Films are here to educate and entertain, and I am looking forward to being both. Though I am not a member of the LGBT community, as a former Sociology student, I feel that we should learn to live and let live. So, a festival like this one is bound to help us get past our differences and realise our similarities.”

Canadian LGBT activist and mother of two, Mona Belleau, who is one of the international guests at the festival, was also present at the festival, despite her jet lag. “Everyone has been so welcoming here, and it’s amazing to be a part of a festival like this. In Canada, it’s not only legal to marry someone of the gay sex, but also to adopt children or try surrogacy. Though there is still some prejudice, most people don’t care. As a lesbian mother of two boys, I hope that the situation will be the same soon in India,” she says. An attendee at the event

Founder and director Sridhar Rangayan has seen the festival grow in scale and stature. Taking a moment from drawing up charts and schedules for the remainder of the festival, he spoke about his joy in being able to celebrate the LGBT Pride through the arts and culture. “Right now, Kashish is not just an LGBT event, but a prestigious film festival that everyone looks forward to. While it is one of the biggest Pride events for the LGBT community, the non-LGBT community also comes here to catch some films. So, this is not just a platform for the LGBT community to shed their inhibitions, but is also an opportunity for the non-LGBT community to intermingle and have a dialogue with the other side,” he concludes.