Filmmaker Onir believes in the power of democracy as his short film We titled Are has faced a major roadblock. The film’s script was recently presented to the the Ministry of Defence for clearance. However, the MoD rejected Onir’s script. The film is a sequel to his 2010 national-award winning film I Am and is based on the life of retired Major J Suresh, who came out as queer and left the Indian Army.
For the unversed, Major Suresh had to leave the force due to his sexual orientation. Elaborating on his script, Onir told Mid-Day, “There is no disrespect to the Armed Forces here at all. I want to emphasise that 56 countries in the world recognise the LGBTQiA+ community (as part of their army).”
As per new rules, all films, web series or short films being made on the Indian Army need to be cleared by the MoD. Onir had submitted his script in mid-December and a few weeks later the script was not cleared.
Talking about his experience, the director said, “Right at the beginning, I had requested a face-to-face meeting. I have not been given that yet. If something is being ‘rejected’, it has to be discussed at length. I can’t just be told it’s illegal. I am retelling the story that’s inspired from a real-life (episode), and the information is all in public domain.”
He further added, “It’s not respectful of them to disallow a filmmaker from telling a story in a democratic country. I don’t want to go straight away to court. That is jumping into an aggressive mode without trying dialogue again. I want to re-appeal because I believe the ministry needs to reconsider the matter. If that doesn’t happen, I don’t know if I have the resources as an independent filmmaker to fight a long-drawn legal battle.” While the filmmaker will continue his fight, he is also hoping to get some backing from the queer community.