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Pride Month: 'Usually, caste discourse is not tolerated in queer spaces'

Pride Month: 'Usually, caste discourse is not tolerated in queer spaces'

Writer-director Nishant Roy Bombarde on why he likes to delve into the lives of people on the fringes of society and the risks taken by indie filmmakers to tell queer stories

Queer narratives have found a robust form of expression in short films. This explains why writer-director Nishant Roy Bombarde, 39, chose this medium for Daaravtha (2016) and Gair (2022). Layered and delicate, Daaravtha is about a young boy making his choice even as he discovers his sexuality. In Gair, caste and queer narratives intersect as two youngsters experience love. Daaravtha (The Threshold) scooped up the National Award for Best Debut Film and, recently, Gair has been winning acclaim during screenings after its premiere at this year’s New York Indian Film Festival.

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What was the trigger for your short film Gair, which talks about discrimination on the basis of sexuality and caste?

A big chunk of the queer community, which is so vociferous about its rights of sexual expression and freedom to choose a partner, can be surprisingly casteist. By and large, caste discourse is not tolerated in queer spaces. Queer spaces are touted as safe, but they are selectively safe when it comes to intersectionality. The irony of this has never failed to escape me. If one delves deep into the recent past, the talks of intersectionality have met with apathy at best and blatant opposition at worst. So, the question, how do people who find themselves at this intersectionality navigate through this, made me curious. It is a struggle of fighting double persecution and not finding support in what you thought were safe spaces. At the conceptual level, this is what was going on in my mind. But as you know, in my earlier short Daaravtha (The Threshhold) too, caste plays an important role in aligning the two protagonists’ paths. I wanted to explore that space more. These two ideas eventually developed into Gair.

How important is it for you to touch upon social issues that render some people as ‘minority’ or ‘others’?

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