Onir comes out of the closet


MUMBAI: It isn’t the best way for parents to get to know about their son’s sexual orientation. But as gay filmmaker Onir concedes, even the unsavoury has its advantages. And the ‘advantage’ that Onir discovered when a young male newcomer accused him of sexual advances was vis-à-vis Onir’s parents who finally came to know that their son was gay.

Admits Onir, “Not that I ever hid my sexuality. But I had never spoken to my parents about it. When they got to know through media reports about my orientation they told me something that made me feel completely liberated. My mother said, ‘If your father and I have to stay with one of our three children it would be you.’ That day I felt a huge burden fall off my chest. The fear of how parents would react when they came to know of my sexual orientation, evaporated. I felt free and honest.”

Onir’s brother Abhishek Dhar, who is an eminent award-winning scientist called up after hearing about Onir’s sexual orientation. “He offered me financial assistance. That was the only way he could show at that point of time that he cared.It was a touching.I felt more liberated that day than ever before.”

Interestingly Onir is the second Bengali filmmaker after Rituparno Ghosh to come out of the closet. Both are now focused on making films address the question of homosexuality.

In fact Onir’s film I Am Omar showing a scary side of homophobic harassment when the young wannabe actor (Arjun Mathur) sucks up to the rich-and-influential homosexual (Rahul Bose) and finally betrays him, seemed uncannily similar to what happened with Onir vis-à-vis the aspiring actor Yuvraj Parasher who accused Onir of molestation.

Says Onir, “It is bizarre that I wrote the story I Am Omar much before I went through a serious incident of gay-bashing in my real life. Whether it is what I’ve gone through with the wannabe actor or what Dibakar Banerjee has gone through with the female actor, those in the limelight in the entertainment industry live in constant fear of being subjected to blackmail and arm-twisting.”