#NewsBytesExclusive: DefMin rejecting script on gay soldier 'homophobic,' says Onir
In January, National Award-winning director Onir revealed the script of his upcoming anthology We Are was rejected by the Defence Ministry. The segment in question focused on the life of a gay soldier, inspired by publicly accessible information of a real-life retired Indian Army major. Six months down the road, Onir is yet to receive any clarification behind the decision. Excerpts from his interview.
'I know there is no real justification'
According to new regulations (since 2020), any content on the military is supposed to get a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Defence Ministry. The ministry's rejection e-mail to Onir simply said the "content has been examined, analyzed, and rejected." "I know there is no real justification apart from the fact that they are homophobic, that begins and ends there," the My Brother...Nikhil helmer said.
Despite social media support, ministry wasn't open to feedback
"They simply said it wasn't accepted. But why? Talk to me," expressed the filmmaker. Noting he was open to negotiations, Onir reiterated featuring a gay soldier isn't demeaning the force in any manner. Ever since the ordeal surfaced, many have voiced support on social media and launched petitions to get the NOC. Although pleased with the support, Onir lamented the lack of results.
'People in power behave as if nothing is happening'
"Despite all the support, there was silence. [It was] almost as if they didn't care so many people were talking about the film, creating petitions," said the I Am director. "This is how various machineries are operating in the country for the past few years, where people in power behave as if nothing is happening...which is very sad, not to be acknowledged."
'Pine Cone' reflex action of not making 'We Are'
The director is now focusing on his next project, Pine Cone. Wrapping up the shoot earlier this month, Onir said, "[Pine Cone] came out of the frustration of not being able to make We Are at this point. I wrote it almost as a reflex action." Instead of looking for acceptance through his films, now he wants to tell queer tales with pride.
This month, Onir added another feather to his cap
His films aren't the only channel the 53-year-old is using to talk about LGBTQ+ issues and stories. During Pride Month, Onir also turned into an author as his memoir I am Onir & I am Gay got published. Growing up, he didn't have any references of "out-and-proud" queer people in popular media and Onir didn't want young queer people to have the same experience.