Despite the giggles, the laughter and the haters, Sanjay Suri’s proud of being ‘that gay film guy:
How did My Brother… Nikhil happen? We were trying to pitch this movie for funding, but it wasn’t really working out. So Onir and I decided to make it ourselves, karte karte, I also acted in it. I was convinced about the script – I was howling by the time I finished reading it. And I was like, I need to get this movie made.
Many told me I was committing commercial and professional suicide. But I knew the audience was ready for it. Then came the suggestions. Make the title A love story with a twist, or yeh dosti… now, when I go on stage for those awards that are still coming, I think of all these people, whom I should actually thank for making me more determined.
No negativity from Bollywood?
See, everyone we approached told me you can’t do this in India. But they actually couldn’t handle the subject. Mainstream people like to slot everything – action, romance, comedy. And there is no slot yet called LGBT.
Haven’t you ever been embarrassed?
No, not me. But everywhere I go, press conferences, screenings, there is always the giggles, the laughter. I have realised this laughter is a cover-up, to cover their own embarrassment – their inability to deal with the subject matter. We may say we are open and all that, but a large part of the society still finds it difficult to handle homosexuality.
As does Bollywood?
That… there’s miles to go. Maybe 20 years down the line, gay characters will not perhaps be made a laughing stock. But then, maybe it will take 50 years…
Did playing a gay on screen snub your Bollywood career?
What are you saying? This was the landmark film of my career – I don’t care for anything else after that. Also, I’ve done many critically acclaimed films after that – Pinjar, Firaaq, all happened after My Brother… Nikhil. Today, if I am called a ‘serious’ actor, it’s due to the sum total of all those films – which I think I got because I played this character. And not vice versa.