• Three Minutes

Badnam Basti

Updated: Jun 18, 2020

International days are a great tool to educate the general public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems and to celebrate and reinforce the achievements of humanity.

It becomes a powerful tool to advocate new ideas and thoughts.

This week, we thought to link every article to an international day. With each article, we’ll bring forth an idea or a concept that is slowly changing our society.

1st June is celebrated as the Global Day of Parents worldwide. It is essential that we realise the importance of the word parents here. Because parents don’t always mean Mother-Father, sometimes it is Mother-Mother other times, Father-Father.

With the news of Badnam Basti, India’s first gay film, which released in 1971 resurfacing after 49 years, we dedicate this Global Day of Parents to this community, who hasn’t even been given the chance to become parents. Our subject line today is an ode to this lost jewel which we hope would come back to Indian Cinema soon.

Badnam Basti was thought to be a lost treasure but was found in a Berlin Archive. The movie was then live-streamed by The Block Museum of Art in Illinois, in collaboration with the Arsenal Institute for Film and Video Art in Berlin.

This shows that even after 50 years of such cultural infusion the world is still behind. But on the bright side, most countries around the world have seen development in this arena.

Recently Costa Rica became the first Central American country to legalize same-sex marriage. The story began in August 2018 when Costa Rica's supreme court said the country's ban was unconstitutional and gave the congress 18 months to correct it or it would happen automatically. The Legislative Assembly did not act, so at midnight the law banning same-sex marriage was nullified. Daritza Araya and Alexandra Quiros married just after midnight in an outdoor service performed by a notary wearing a face mask who called them "wife and wife."

Theirs is Costa Rica's first legal gay marriage and it was broadcast live on the internet.

But India still lags behind.

If you had told Ayesha Kapur 10 years ago that she would help lead the fight against one of the oldest laws in the world that criminalizes gay sex, she would never have believed you. Ms Kapur had been reluctant to even speak about her sexuality for much of her life and now she is an activist campaigning for change.

The Indian mindset is still traditional and people still say that gay marriage which was punishable to death in Hindu Dharmic texts such as the Manusmriti. They believe in these ancient ideals and as a result of such stifling parental habits, thousands of children hide their sexual orientation, till date.

Even our Bollywood directors have refrained from touching these subjects. Shubh Mangal Zyaada Savdhaan was one of the few movies of this domain that actually did well (not amazing) in the market. Yes, there were other names as well like Mango Souffle, Margaritas with a straw, Fire and My Brother Nikhil. None of these did very well in the box office.

This throws a light on the appetite that the Indian crowd currently has for such content.

“Homosexuality is never justifiable.”

This is a very strong statement. And this was the statement about which respondents were asked to share their opinions and beliefs. In the 1990s 89% people agreed with it. This number has now fallen to 24% as of 2014 but still, it is too high.

So this World Parents Day let us pledge that we would try to reform at least one person around us so that one day when we see a child playing in a park with two fathers and the world does not give them the evil eye.

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