Onir ropes in queer actor for LGBTQiA+ story


The buzz around casting queer actors for queer roles has gotten stronger over the years. In ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’, Vijay Raaz did a phenomenal job playing Raziabai, but the makers received a lot of flak because they casted a straight person for the role.

The LGBTQiA+ community is under-represented in the cinema industry particularly at a time when the cinema content is becoming more inclusive. When the subject is about the community it is only right that the members of the community are roped in to play the part.

One filmmaker has decided to do his bit to be more inclusive and boost representation of the community. Filmmaker Onir who is working on a project ‘Pine Cone’, which is about the LGBTQiA+ community, which would be the first mainstream Bollywood movie about the community has roped in a queer actor to lead his movie.

Speaking to Mid-Day about it, the filmmaker said that initially they had planned to cast actor Shardul Pandit for the role. “One day, we were discussing why I didn’t cast a queer actor for the part. I had tried, but it’s not easy for actors to be out and proud queer because then it [makes people wonder] whether he will be able to effectively play a straight part. Actors face discrimination on that basis. But as luck would have it, in two days, I got a call from a casting agent. I saw this wonderful audition by Vidur Sethi that struck a chord with me,” shared Onir.

He then said that after the audition he knew he had found the right person for the job. Onir adds, “When I was discussing the intense scenes with him, I asked him if he had reservations. That’s when he told me that it wouldn’t be a problem because he identifies as queer. When I cast him, it was on the basis of his merit, but his sexual identity was a pleasant surprise that makes this film only richer.”

Vidur Sethi feels like Pine Cone is like a win for the LGBTQiA+ community. He said, “I do believe that the lived experiences that queer actors bring in, adds to the representation of queer parts. With this one step ahead, multiple possibilities will open up for actors from the community. It will open gates for employment of more actors.”

The shoot for ‘Pine Cone’ will go on floors on May 10 and the first shoot schedule will be in Kochi, India. Meanwhile, Onir’s anthology ‘We Are’ has been put on hold after one of the scripts of the short films was rejected by the Ministry of Defence. The director though is adamant that he will work on the anthology. He said, We Are is my act of rebellion. But this movie is also special. It’s about our lives and loves, narrated through a decade in a guy’s life. It is inspired by my own experiences.”


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