New Delhi, April 3 (IANS) Karan Goel, 27, is not just another entrepreneur from Punjab. He is visually impaired, works via talking gadgets and has just made a film that tackles the dilemma of homosexuals in India.
'The Other Side', a one-hour-and- 45-minute film, is an attempt by Ludhiana-based Goel to showcase how a physically challenged person can overcome his disability to make a movie and that too for and on a section of Indian society that is emotionally disabled - the homosexuals.
Goel is the CEO of King Multitech Global Pvt. Ltd., which makes regenerative medicine.
'When I was 15, I found out I was suffering from Retinitis Pigmentosa (an eye disease). When people found out, they started distancing themselves from me and began boycotting me. I went ahead to finish my studies through correspondence but later left that too.
'I feel such discrimination also happens with homosexuals in India. Later, I went abroad to do my graduation from San Francisco State University and there I realised how liberal people were about homosexuality, unlike here,' Goel told IANS over phone from Mumbai.
'When I came back to India, my father suggested that I do something for society. He said, 'Let's make a movie!' And homosexuality was a subject that came immediately to my mind,' said Goel, who is not gay himself.
According to him, the film is aimed at teenagers who often find themselves at crossroads if they feel sexually attracted to a person of his or her own gender or for those who fail to identify their sexual orientation.
'People here don't understand that homosexuality is a natural phenomenon. Most families ask their children to leave the house and go far away if they find out their child is gay. The Indian government itself says it's a crime to be a homosexual. But when one is born with that sexual orientation, what can a person do?' he asked.
Directed by Honney-Rommey, the film stars Gaurav Bajaj, Anand Mathur and Anjali Mathur. Apart from having produced the film, Goel is also the writer and associate director of the movie.
'We have left an open ending to the film. The only message it tries to give is that parents need to understand their child and not leave them to be alone on the streets if he or she is gay,' he said.
Last year several activists and supporters of gay rights took to the streets in Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata in possibly their largest march to demand they be treated as normal human beings.
To an extent, homosexuality has come out of the closet and into mainstream cinema as well. But it is mostly shown as breezy comic fare in most films, including 'Kal Ho Naa Ho' and 'Kya Kool Hai Hum'.
But 'The Other Side' is a serious and sincere effort to change rigid perceptions about homosexuality in Indian society.
Goel plans to release the film commercially. He says he made the film mainly to create awareness about the issue. He had a special screening of the film in Mumbai Thursday for members of The Humsafar Trust, an open gay community-based organisation in the financial capital.
Goel hopes the film will also be a benchmark for other people who suffer physical disabilities to do something 'extraordinary'.
(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at [email protected])