'Kapoor & Sons': A Familiar Story For Desi LGBTs

23/03/2016 8:17 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
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Indian Bollywood actors (L-R) Sidharth Malhotra, Alia Bhatt and Fawad Khan pose during a promotional event for the upcoming Hindi film 'Kapoor & Sons' in Mumbai on March 7, 2016. / AFP / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)


By Manpreet Singh

Because perfect desi families have those tiny little kinks and flaws.

Because perfect siblings fight.

And because a perfect son can be gay.

In the backdrop of beautiful scenery, of hills and greenery, comes Kapoor & Sons covering a wide range of that one not-so-perfect Indian family. Meet the Kapoors: Mr. Amarjeet Kapoor, a 90-something ex-army grandpa who knows how to have fun, Mr. and Mrs. Kapoor who seem to have lost the spark over the years and the two sons in the US-- Rahul and Arjun Kapoor--who come back to visit when their grandpa has a heart attack.

Fawad Khan and Ratna Pathak paint an unprecedented and honest picture of the mother-son dynamic.

Rahul Kapoor, played by Fawad Khan, is the quintessential responsible son who is successful, owns a business and is the apple of his parents' eyes. As pointed out not so subtly later by Mrs. Kapoor (Ratna Pathak), he is her perfect bacha (son). Arjun Kapoor, the other son, played by Sidharth Malhotra, is initially portrayed to be the not-so-successful, second best, the not so serious other son. As the story progresses, cracks begin to appear in the family. The film beautifully encompasses the complex dynamics of this family, the secrets, the betrayals, the flaring angers as well as the bond of love that ties everyone together. Sounds familiar? Well, because it is. Yet, there is something different about this movie which makes you watch with interest (even the corny songs).

At the crescendo of the chaos-- the discovery of the unfaithfulness of the father--the mother discovers the photographs of her "perfect" son with his partner who is a guy. In the midst of the emotional whirlwind with an eventual tragedy resulting in Mr. Kapoor's death, Fawad Khan and Ratna Pathak paint an unprecedented and honest picture of the mother-son dynamic. While the very talented Ratna beautifully plays the role of a widow and a mother in shock upon discovery of her son's sexuality, Fawad portrays the son with great sensitivity. At one point his character says, "Main perfect bacha ban ke thak gaya hoon." The character played by him is a far leap from the stereotypical and often comical and ridiculed gay men in Bollywood. Even when coming out to his brother, he is shown as someone at peace with his sexuality.

Can we hope for such positive portraits of LGBT characters in the future as well? Only time will tell.

All of this tension and emotional drama is relatable for a plethora of desi LGBT men and women. Towards the end, the mother-son duo are again shown in a very intense setting, with the mother, while nervously fidgeting, asking his son how his "friend" is. To some it might be a moment of acceptance, to others a mother just trying to make the best of a situation but one certainly cannot deny that it played at the heartstrings of the audience.

So, is this just a one-time wonder or can we hope for such positive portraits of LGBT characters in the future as well? Only time will tell. The filmmakers and the scriptwriters must be applauded for this representation. Meanwhile the movie has so far garnered a wonderful 8.4/10 rating on IMDB.

Author bio: Manpreet Singh is currently pursuing a postgraduate program in management at the Indian School of Business. His interests include business strategy and marketing. He is an avid supporter of LGBT rights.

This post was first published at Gaylaxy.

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