The Way We Are
India. 2021. 18 min
A husband recounts the days of being in school, being different from other boys, realizing that his body reacts to men, the way other boys’ bodies react to women.
A wife realizes that she has always let other people dictate what she eats, what she wears, what she studies, who she marries, and how she has sex. She wants to be liberated. Why has she kept it all within her so far?
As the couple finds words to own their truths, they start searching for words to tell them to each other.
I was a film journalist and critic with India’s leading publications, the Times of India and Hindustan Times, and I have been working as a screenwriter for the last 5 years. My screenwriting credits include Anurag Kashyap’s film, Choked, and his next film, Dobaaraa. I have also co-written the second season of the Netflix series, Sacred Games. Apart from writing, I have worked with Kashyap’s team as an assistant director and script supervisor.
When I decided to make a short film, I knew that it had to tackle the issue of belonging to the gay community in India. I identify as a cis gay man, and I needed to talk about men in India who don’t have the vocabulary to come out of the closet, let alone live their authentic lives. As I started writing the film, I realized that a good foil to my male protagonist would be a woman who has suppressed all her needs, desires and wishes. In my opinion, the experience of being a woman and being a closeted gay man have a lot of overlaps in a society as restrictive as India.
As an introvert, I have also often sacrificed a lot to avoid confrontation of any kind, so I knew that I had to marry these issues in The Way We Are.
A large part of the Indian society still looks at marriage as a burden, a responsibility to be checked off. Women are expected to be subservient, men have a specific toxic masculine role to play. Sometimes, as in movies, chest-thumping acceptance of self is not instantly an option. I want to tell more stories of queer people and women in India, and I hope The Way We Are is a step in the right direction for it.