In a candid and exclusive interview with Bollywood Hungama, Jaydeep Sarkar, the director of Amazon Prime Video’s docuseries Rainbow Rishta, shared insights into the show’s creation, its impact on audiences, and the ongoing challenges faced by the community in India.
EXCLUSIVE: Rainbow Rishta director Jaydeep Sarkar talks about living “Authentic life” after Section 377 scrapped; recalls going to 70 houses to find a home as a gay couple
When asked to share the most heart-touching response he received for the Amazon Prime Video show, Sarkar asserted, “One of the things that really moved me was a message from my partner’s aunt, who lives in Jamshedpur. She wrote the most beautiful message. She’s 75. She asked – ‘What can I do? What can we do to undo the wrongs of generations?”
Sarkar also delved into the current state of the LGBTQIA+ community in India, explaining the diversity of challenges faced. He said, “We’ve come a long way, with [Section] 377 being struck down, it almost feels like we’ve been told that – ‘you can exist, but don’t ask for anything more.’ It is not anywhere close to what the ideal is. Me and my partner, for example. I had to go to 70 houses to finally find a house that would have us as an openly gay couple.”
The director credited his mother-in-law, Shobha Mendhi, as his biggest cheerleader and support system, highlighting her unapologetic acceptance of their relationship and her ability to navigate challenges with love and kindness.
Discussing the inception of Rainbow Rishta, Sarkar revealed that Vice Studios had already pitched the idea to Amazon when he came on board. The casting process aimed for diversity, not only in terms of sexual orientation but also across different backgrounds, genders, and economic statuses. “The casting director Navin Noronha is a very prolific stand-up comic and he travels around the country. He brought more than 200-250 people and interviewed all of them,” Jaydeep said.
Reflecting on life after the scrapping of Section 377, Sarkar acknowledged, “I am very aware of my privilege. I went to St. Stephen’s College, and I have worked with filmmakers who are really progressive humanist filmmakers. What I think has happened with [scrapping of Section] 377 is that once you have a sense of validation from the system and are not deemed criminal, a sense of confidence comes in. When that law changes, you know that you’re not a criminal and you’re not someone who is indulging in nefarious activities; it helps you accept yourself more. So, I don’t know if the change is apparent, but there has been a tectonic shift for sure. And, yeah, I’m able to live a more authentic life.”
Addressing the continued prejudices faced by the LGBTQIA+ community, Sarkar attributed it to “fear of the unknown” and a “lack of accurate representation in mainstream media.” He stressed the importance of showcasing authentic queer experiences, as demonstrated in Rainbow Rishta.
In closing, Sarkar expressed his thoughts on the representation of the LGBTQIA+ community in Indian entertainment. While commending films like Badhaai Do, Loev, and My Brother Nikhil, he urged for a shift away from basic coming-out stories and stated the need for more nuanced and authentic portrayals in mainstream media.
Also Read: “Rainbow Rishta is a celebration of superheroes,” says director Jaydeep Sarkar as they launch trailer of the series
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