Multiple award-winning filmmaker Faraz Ansari, whose short film ‘Sheer Qorma’ revolves around a queer love story, says that being an openly queer non-binary individual, he found it very hard to get a producer at first. He blames this personal struggle on the homophobia that exists in our society.
The film, with Shabana Azmi, Swara Bhaskar and Divya Dutta playing the principal characters, was selected for screening at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM).
In a conversation with IANS, Faraz said: “Yes, it is true that there are corporate houses that back experimental cinema and there’s a lot of progressive conversation going on, but homophobia also exists. We cannot deny it.
“I am a queer non-binary individual, so people with higher power tend to think I am not good enough to be the captain of the ship on a film set. My sexual identity always comes in between. Instead, people should look at my talent.
“Also, the fact that the story of ‘Sheer Qorma’ is about a Muslim family, and both my female protagonists are Muslim, made it tough for me to find a producer.”
The story revolves around Saira and Sitara, played by Divya Dutta and Swara Bhaskar, respectively, who fall in love with each other. Saira’s mother, played by Shabana Azmi, initially finds the relationship not natural and as the film progresses, it is all about whether she, or her family, reconciles with the relationship.
Ansari is known for the silent film ‘Sisak’, which has won 59 international awards, yet he says it hurts him as a storyteller and as a human being to experience such a struggle before each project.
He said: “Look, if I am a new filmmaker who is yet to prove the mettle, it is understandable that anyone would think twice before giving financial support to my story. But I am the same filmmaker who made the film, travelled to film festivals, and won awards from festivals recognised by BAFTA and the MPAA. Still, I face discrimination every day.”
Continuing on the same them, Ansari said: “I am not saying I am the only one, but anyone who is in a sexual minority is silenced systematically. It is ruining the very essence of our pluralistic culture.
“As the story of ‘Sheer Qorma’ is a love story of two women, I had to deal with deep-rooted misogyny. It had no logic. That is why, quite illogically, despite having a strong story and the support of talented actors, our journey became hard, and it hurts.
“The day individuals would their due based on their talent and are not discriminated against because of preconceived notions, or gender and religious biases, we surely will build a harmonious society.”
‘Sheer Qorma’ has been screened in several film festivals and it has won the Best Short Film Audience Award at the Frameline Film Festival and also qualified for the BAFTA Awards 2021.
The film is produced by Marijke Desouza and it also features Priya Malik, Jitin Gulati.
–By Arundhuti Banerjee