Oscar winner Resul Pookutty seems to have offended a significant number of RRR fans by suggesting there was more to the NTR-Ramcharan friendship in SS Rajamouli’s arcing epic than meets the eye.
Resul, I suspect that in an unprepared “Kapil Sharma” moment, he apparently called the film a gay love story. Everything from his sexuality to his religious belief is called into question. First things first: are we still living in those primitive days when same-sex relationships were branded as stone offenses?
This is not only an attack on the human right to opinion and expression but also very myopic. From the time Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole played Becket and King Henry 2 in Peter Glenville’s highly acclaimed film, Becket’s on-screen friendships were open to homo-erotic interpretations.
Were Rajendra Kumar and Raj Kapoor more in love with each other than Vyjanthimala in Sangam? Was there more to the Burton-O’Toole friendship at Becket than what we’ve seen? We will never know. Ten years later, when Hrishikesh Mukherjee adapted Becket to an Indian context in Namak Haraam, he chose Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan as classless best friends.
In the film, when the director shot the two friends in the song Diye jalte hain phool khilte hain badi mushqil se magar duniya mein dost milte hain, there was a certain intimacy between the two friends, which is not found in the behavior of the same two actors towards one another in the previous Anand by the same director, which suggested a bond deeper than heterosexual friendship.
This brings us to the most controversial and famous portrayal of male bonding in Hindi cinema in Ramesh Sippy’s classic Sholay where Jai (Amitabh Bachchan) and Veeru (Dharmendra) spent more time together than any husband. and woman. Their unit song Yeh dosti hum nahin chhodenge is performed as a gay anthem to this day.
But the same goes for Mukesh Bass song yahi apradh main har baar karta hoon aadmi hoon aadmi se pyar karta hoon which Manoj Kumar sang on screen in the 1970 movie Pehchan.
Surely Manoj Kumar wasn’t making a gay confession?!
Ramesh Sippy, the director of Sholay, told me to interpret Jai and Veeru’s friendship as I wanted. “They love each other like brothers. But if you see more of their friendship, then that’s fine too, as long as the friendship remains what it is: a real bond between brothers from different mothers.
I suggest those who vilify Resul Pookutty for seeing RRR as a gay love story also take a moderate view of male friendship. The lines keep blurring.
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