Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Bipasha Basu: "Girls Are Icky"

Bipasha makes the universal hand signal for "Keep your vagina away from me."

Does Bollywood star Bipasha Basu think gay ladies are the worst? If her interview in the newest issue of Filmfare magazine (which is a guilty pleasure of mine the way US Weekly is to your mom) is any indication, she does. The interview (titled "I'm petrified of women hitting on me" no less) is a puff piece focusing on her romantic aspirations. It includes the question, "What if a woman were to hit on you?" which she answered this way:

They have hit on me. It's really embarrassing. I'm petrified of women hitting on me. It's happened to me twice. One was in love with me, a make-up artiste in New York, she gave me a Valentine diamond pendant. At first I thought she as my friend (sic) but then my agent told me the truth. I don't even like women touching me. I'm not the hugging type. I have a lot of girlfriends but I'm not the sticky type at all.

Even taking into account the possibility that she was misquoted, or that there might be something lost or erroneously added in the translation (I don't know if this interview was conducted in Hindi and translated into English), I'm a little disappointed in this answer. Mostly because now I have to rethink my plans of presenting her with a Valentine diamond pendant (thanks a lot, lesbo make-up artiste in New York!), but also because in the ten plus years that I've been in love with Bollywood, I've had to deal with the cognitive dissonance that comes from being a little gay Polish girl who loves Indian movies despite their lowest common denominator approach to gay visibility.

Interestingly, Filmi Girl linked to this article today which talks about the subject in more depth. The article focuses on Bol Bachchan, a new film that I haven't seen yet, but it is also hard on Dostana; a film I actually found endearing in a weird way. Sure it was "gay joke gag heavy," but I also thought there was way more warmth than maliciousness in the humor. Of course, I also went in expecting the worst, so that may have played a part in my favorable opinion. Plus, hello? The song "Desi Girl" rules.

To be fair, Bollywood as a whole frequently takes the lowest common denominator approach to virtually any demographic that will get a quick laugh. Fat people (Rajat Rawail in Bodyguard), South Indians (Shahrukh Khan in Ra.One), the Chinese (Saif Ali Khan in the 1994 hit Main Khiladi Tu Anari) just to name a few. If you can make an immature joke about it, consider it fair game. That's why I typically give the cheap shot gay jokes a pass. Sophomoric humor is a masala film staple. But it is a let down to know that big stars like Ms. Basu spend their days "petrified" at the thought that a woman might find them attractive. It's one thing to make immature jokes on the screen, it's another to be immature about the issue in real life.

But it's your loss Bipasha! I'm totally giving my Valentine diamond pendant to Anushka Sharma instead. An actress who, I can't help but notice, made the cover of the very same issue where your "don't touch me, ladies" article is buried on page 52. 

I hope somebody besides a gay white girl from the U.S. takes her to task regarding these comments. Just remember Bipasha: Fame is fleeting, and fans can be fickle. It makes sense to be respectful of the people that made you famous in the first place. Even the gay ones.


Filmi Girl said...

Thanks for pointing me to this! ♥

I share your opinion on both Dostana (oddly sweet - especially the part where Kirron Kher accepts John as her "son-in-law") and on generally ignoring gay jokes as part of the environment of "you're funny because you're different" comedy that pervades. Because, hey, I'd rather see some sweet "comedy" gay guy like Kat's friend in Partner than no gay people at all on screen.

I wonder if Bipasha is one of those girls who loves gay guys as safe but is scared of homosexuality in herself... perhaps the lady doth protest too much. Eh, Bips?

(Laura) said...

That's the exact part of 'Dostana' I was thinking of!

When I was young and questioning my sexuality, I developed secret crushes on a few female celebrities. I can only imagine how crushed and ashamed I would have felt had I read an interview with, for instance, Linda Carter and she said something like this. THINK OF THE GAY CHILDREN, BIPASHA! :)

Beth said...

I agree with all of this too. For me, the line between the general juvenile humor and actually being upset about what I see on screen moves around a lot and depends on the topic and on its treatment, and as for you Dostana fell well within my personal bounds of acceptable because I thought it was so good-hearted overall.

Side note: I think my favorite gay character in any Bollywood film is Preity's blink-and-you-miss-him friend in Jhoom Barabar Jhoom - IIRC he's basically free of any ridiculous trappings at all?

I hardly ever read interviews in Filmfare or elsewhere, but part of me wonders if Bips just decided she needed to have an opinion about something and this is the easiest topic they lobbed at her? "...and world peace!"? She sounds like a 13-year-old boy, all but saying "OOOOGY!" and doing the cootie-block gesture.

But yeah. Grow up, people.

(Laura) said...

I'll have to add Jhoom Barabar Jhoom to my ever growing list of movies to watch...

Hmm. I don't think I have a favorite gay Bollywood character. I haven't seen enough portrayals of actual gay people to have a favorite. Now, if the category were "awkwardly mistaken for gay in a wacky 'this-isn't-what-it-looks-like-Auntie!' scene," I'd be able to come up with several possible candidates without even trying that hard. ;)

Chethna said...

I think the way the issue is dealt with is a reflection of how the Indian society handles these topics. We do in fact, skirt around very important subjects and don't delve deep because we feel like we don't want ruffle any feathers.

However, this is changing and there have been movies that speak more about the reality of the socio-political scenario.

There are movies like this: (It was a terrible movie - but at least attempted to address homosexuality in women - but then ended being bat shit crazy)

Here's a full list that may give you a better picture. Mango Souffle and Fire were critically acclaimed and they did really stand out.
I would replace Kal Ho Na Ho with Page 3. I actually really like the movie Page 3 by Madhur Bhandarkar.

Maybe you should put some of these on your list too.

(Laura) said...

Thanks Che! I haven't seen 'Girlfriend' but I remember when it came out. I think it's my duty as a gay Bollywood fan to see it - bat shit craziness or no!

From the "Top 10 Gay Indian Films" link, I've seen four of them: Dostana (which we've covered here), Fashion (a movie I found pretty forgettable and didn't even remember there was an actual gay character until reading the synopsis in the article), Kal Ho Naa Ho (totally doesn't count!), and Fire (heartbreakingly good fillm). I've added several of the others to my "to watch list." :)