gay pride

At Mumbai's gay pride march, parents come out to support their queer children

Rainbow photographs from Saturday's event.

In 2008, when Mumbai held its first Gay Pride Parade ‒ billed as the Queer Azadi March ‒ about a 1,000 people showed up. On Saturday, as members of the LGBTQ community await the outcome of a petition in the Supreme Court seeking the legalisation of gay sex, the ninth edition of the march gathered almost 6,000 participants.

As they walked in a loop from August Kranti Maidan to the end of Kennedy Bridge and back again, one feature stood out: the encouragingly large number of parents standing shouder-to-shoulder with their queer children. Among them was Pradeep Divgikar, who posed proudly for photographs with his son Sushant, who had been crowned Mr Gay India in 2014.

All along the route, the marchers, accompanied by drummers, drew curious stares and amusement (especially when men with women's clothes and high heels tottered by) but nothing resembling hostility.

After the end of every pride march, participants release multicoloured balloons in the hues of the queer flag into the sky. This year, though, several bunches of balloons had been appropriated by street kids. So the event concluded with only red and green balloons soaring into the clouds.

Activist Harish Iyer speaks to the crowd before the start of the Gay Pride Parade on Saturday.
Activist Harish Iyer speaks to the crowd before the start of the Gay Pride Parade on Saturday.
A participant of the Gay Pride Parade strikes a pose.
A participant of the Gay Pride Parade strikes a pose.
Participants at the Mumbai Gay Pride Parade greet each other enthusiastically.
Participants at the Mumbai Gay Pride Parade greet each other enthusiastically.
Posters are painted before the start of the Mumbai Gay Pride Parade.
Posters are painted before the start of the Mumbai Gay Pride Parade.
One of the participants wore his support on his chin.
One of the participants wore his support on his chin.
The rainbow flag is unfurled.
The rainbow flag is unfurled.
The marchers make their way across Mumbai's Nana Chowk.
The marchers make their way across Mumbai's Nana Chowk.
There were cool hats and floral wristbands at the march.
There were cool hats and floral wristbands at the march.
Participants pose for photographs.
Participants pose for photographs.
Sushant Divgikar, Gay Mr India 2014 and his father Pratap, at the parade.
Sushant Divgikar, Gay Mr India 2014 and his father Pratap, at the parade.
A participant ensures his voice is heard.
A participant ensures his voice is heard.
A quick make-up check.
A quick make-up check.
Puppies marched for pride too.
Puppies marched for pride too.
Sending off selfies as the event progresses.
Sending off selfies as the event progresses.
Gaurav Joshi waves a home-made flag.
Gaurav Joshi waves a home-made flag.
Giving it a whirl.
Giving it a whirl.
A reminder that being queer is still illegal in India.
A reminder that being queer is still illegal in India.
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In a first, some of the finest Indian theatre can now be seen on your screen

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Though we are a country besotted with cinema, theatre remains an original source of provocative stories, great actors, and the many deeply rooted traditions of the dramatic arts across India. CinePlay is a new, ambitious experiment to bring the two forms together.

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Play

The actors too adapted their performance from the demands of the theatre to the requirements of a studio. While in the theatre, performers have to project their voice to reach a thousand odd members in the live audience, they now had the flexibility of being more understated. Namit Das, a popular television actor, who acts in the CinePlay ‘Bombay Talkies’ says, “It’s actually a film but yet we keep the characteristics of the play alive. For the camera, I can say, I need to tone down a lot.” Vickram Kapadia’s ‘Bombay Talkies’ takes the audience on a roller coaster ride of emotions as seven personal stories unravel through powerful monologues, touching poignant themes such as child abuse, ridicule from a spouse, sacrifice, disillusionment and regret.

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Besides the advantages of cinematic techniques, many of the artists also believe it will add to the longevity of plays and breathe new life into theatre as a medium. Adhir Bhat, the writer of ‘Sometimes’ says, “You make something and do a certain amount of shows and after that it phases out, but with this it can remain there.”

This should be welcome news, even for traditionalists, because unlike mainstream media, theatre speaks in and for alternative voices. Many of the plays in the collection are by Vijay Tendulkar, the man whose ability to speak truth to power and society is something a whole generation of Indians have not had a chance to experience. That alone should be reason enough to cheer for the whole project.

Play

Hotstar, India’s largest premium streaming platform, stands out with its Originals bouquet bringing completely new formats and stories, such as these plays, to its viewers. Twenty timeless stories from theatre will be available to its subscribers. Five CinePlays, “Between the lines”, “The Job”, “Sometimes”, “Bombay Talkies” and “Typecast”, are already available and a new one will release every week starting March. To watch these on Hotstar Premium, click here.

This article was produced on behalf of Hotstar by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.