Dostana, the hit film featuring Abhishek Bachchan and John Abraham, did not endear itself to every gay person. Its critics felt it reinforced stereotypes.
Yet, the film was invited at last year's I View Film Festival in New York which examines gay and feminist themes in South Asian films. John, and the film's director Tarun Mansukhani attended the screening and participated in a lively discussion.
Engendered, a powerful and pioneering organisation, not only holds the I View festival but uses also uses dance and music to initiate public dialogue around women's issues, gender inequity, sexual orientation, and minority and health rights.
This year, the festival -- scheduled September 18-26 -- will kick off with director Onir's I Am. It will also feature the Sundance-acclaimed documentary Bhutto, Vinay Shukla's Mirch and Dibakar Banerjee's multiplex hit Love, Sex Aur Dhoka. LSD, as the film is popularly known as, hasn't had a theatrical release in North America.
The films will be screened at the Tribeca Film Center, Big Picture cinemas and Asia Society. Screenings will be followed by discussions and panels with key cast members, film writers and directors, and academics.
Directors like Rituparno Ghosh, Aparna Sen, Onir Anirban, M S Sathyu and Vishal Bhardwaj are expected at the festival this year. Actors expected to join them are Konkona Sen Sharma, Zeenat Aman, Helen, Raima Sen, Juhi Chawla, Arshad Warsi and Rahul Bose.
'Cinema remains one of the most effective and powerful ways to change societies like ours that are still fraught with silences around issues of gender, sexual and human rights,' Myna Mukherjee, festival director, has said in a statement. 'We are thrilled to have so many voices joining us to amplify our mission of using the popular to blow up the marginal.
'Overall, this film festival also caters to mainstream audiences,' Mukherjee adds. 'The issues affecting gay or women affect every family in India or other parts of the world. We could be discussing about a resilient woman (in a film) which could make someone say, 'I want my friend or my aunt or my sister to be like her.''
One of the much discussed films last year was Zoya Akhtar's Luck by Chance, which featured her brother Farhan. The
siblings attended the post screening discussion, which examined the way Indian cinema has often looked at women artists.