Members of the LGBTQI+ community in Tamil Nadu are up in arms against the portrayal of women and a queer character in Director Santhosh P Jayakumar's latest film, Iruttu Araiyil Murattu Kuththu (IAMK). Transgender activist Apsara reddy, and Chennai Dost – an LGBTQI+ organisation – have approached the Chennai commissioner AK Viswanathan with a complaint against the film.
They will also be meeting the Tamil Nadu Film Producers Council Chief Vishal Krishna to demand that the director and lead actor Gautham Karthik apologise for objectionable content in the film.
Following its release on Friday, IAMK has come under severe criticism for the manner in which it portrayed a homosexual character in the film. It is an A rated film and has been marketed as an adult sex comedy. The gay character is subjected to the usual 'Avanaa nee?' questions and told that gay encounters don't count as a “loss of virginity.”
The homophobia in the film reaches its peak when a straight man says, it is because of gay men that people like him are not safe in public. The film with its regressive stereotyping propagates and normalises discrimination of women, and sexuality and gender minorities.
"The film portrays homosexuals as sex-starved devious human beings. It should be banned," says Apsara Reddy. "The director and Gautham should make a public apology. Such films incite crimes against women and LGBTQI+ people. It is behind such artistic work that bullies and people who discriminate against others on the basis of sexuality and gender hide,” she adds.
The movie further attempts to mock the rape of a straight man by the homosexual character.
"Rape is such an alarming issue in our country now. Mass media is so powerful and this wrong portrayal is absolutely dangerous," Apsara tells TNM. "By constantly mocking homosexuals and telling young people that it is okay to treat them in a derogatory fashion, they are instigating violence against the community," she says.
To activists on the field, this film is everything that they have been fighting against.
"It completely violates human rights because there are so many gay people fighting internal battles. They have to deal with bullying in school, making their parents accept them, look for opportunities and try to be part of the mainstream. With such a portrayal, they are ruining all the progress that the community is making," Apsara says.
The activists have also approached the District Legal Services authority and asked for the Director and the lead actor be summoned.
"Gautham Karthik is not a struggling actor. He was launched by Director Mani Ratnam and has a father who was a superstar. Why should he influence young minds in this manner?" asks Apsara. "Let them come before the authority and try to justify their portrayal of the queer community."