As the protagonists in the Lingering Wine music video appear on screen, for a second you think of Ed Sheeran and Brittany Cherry in Thinking Out Loud. But the heteronormativity ends there; as singer Pragya Pallavi woos actor Kani Kusruti with the beautiful Fort Kochi as the backdrop, this sexy queer love song comes to life. Most importantly, without the male gaze.
Lingering Wine, the first song from the album Queerism, is co-written by Pragya, a Mumbai based gender fluid artist and LGBTQ activist, and Deepa Vasudevan, a Malayali queer activist from Canada who co-founded Sahyatrika, a Kerala based LGBTQ+ advocacy group. The crew that shot the music video is ‘99% women and queer people’, the makers tell us.
And therefore it’s refreshing when Pragya sings, “Forever I will know your kisses like lingering wine,” and Kani raises her hand sensually to reveal unshaved armpits. When was the last time we saw an attractive woman on screen who didn’t cater to patriarchal ideas of beauty?
Speaking to TNM, Deepa and Pragya say that the video was shot in Kerala because of their deep connect to the state. I have been living in Kerala for 16 years,” says Deepa, “I have friends and many connections here, not to mention that Fort Kochi is one of the most beautiful places in Kerala. So we decided to take the camera and shoot in various places.”
Pragya says that composing a music album wholly dedicated to the queer community came to her as an idle thought initially. Back in 2017 she met with a major accident and was bedridden for about six months. This was when she first toyed with idea of a song and decided to extend it into an Extended Play (EP) later .
Pragya’s idle thought bloomed into a full blown nine track album in the next two years – and Lingering Wine is the first song, timed to release just ahead of Valentine’s Day. It speaks about the love between two women; the track combines Jazz and Soul elements and makes for a sensual and romantic song, Pragya says, adding that she has also sung the song.
“It was produced by a mostly all women, who also also members of the LGBTQI+ community. There was just one man – the executive producer of the album – but he, too, is a very strong ally. So altogether it was a wonderful experience to work with them. And these people are renowned photographers and technicians mostly from Kerala,” Pragya says.
Other than their just released single, the artists will also release the other tracks which deal with several issues ranging from global warming, social justice, suicide prevention to millennial feminism.
Interestingly, all songs in the nine track album are of different genres, just like the myriad issues the albums addresses.
“Other than Deepa, Dena Gorilik and Sanjay Kumar are the other lyricists who helped add words to the music. It was the result of a lot of people contributing,” Pragya says.
Queerism will release its second track before Women’s day (March 8), about gender rights, equality and feminism.
“We try to speak about many issues here – caste, creed, colour, gender etc, along with women’s rights. I believe that women are the power. They can do anything they want to,” Pragya says.