Gulshan Devaiah on Indian audience accepting LGBTQ+ stories: We often underestimate our society | Bollywood

Actor Gulshan Devaiah impressed everyone with his subtle yet impactful performance of a queer character in Badhaai Do (2022). Celebrating the pride month, the actor expresses that he feels happy to see people’s mindset changing towards such stories. The actor narrates an incident that made him believe that people are actually becoming receptive.

Gulshan Devaiah on acceptance of LGBTQ+ content
Gulshan Devaiah on acceptance of LGBTQ+ content

“I was in Dehradun, shooting for my film Guns and Gulabs. And coincidentally, Rajkummar (Rao, co-star in Badhaai Do) was also there. We were staying in the same hotel and whenever we went to the restaurant, some of the other guests and locals with their families would come to dine there. There were so many times that elderly women who had grandchildren would come to me and Raj to appreciate the film. They even said that we were such a great couple on screen. That left me so surprised,” he recounts.

Devaiah expresses that he doesn’t have any knowledge or extra observation about Indian audiences accepting LGBTQIA+ stories and it’s through his personal experiences he feel such films help in bringing about a difference.

“I’ve not read any research papers or statistics that films around homosexuality are being accepted or not. But, this is my experience. I never imagined that in a small town like Dehradun, people would come and show so much love for Badhaai Do. If people come in and give me their best wishes, that means things are changing,” he adds.

The 45-year-old asserts that people are a lot more open now and maybe the film industry needs to realise that fact. “Maybe we underestimate our society to some extent. With any sensitive topic, you can’t shove everything down somebody’s throat. It really depends on how you communicate the subject to them. When you tell stories, people are able to identify with your characters, so there is no need to push any thoughts,” he opines, adding that cinema holds the power to impact the audience, and often in positive ways.

“I don’t know if there is a change per se, but there are definitely more stories being told. Cinema has soft power and it can impact society and promote inclusivity. We have to be careful not to overestimate or underestimate the power of cinema, or the power of stories,” says Devaiah, who reveals there was no prep as such that we did for his character in the film.

Stating that he doesn’t like to over complicate things, he explains, “I completely liked the idea that I would be romancing Raj, and that’s all I had to do. I just tried to be sincere to the writing. How does it matter? How does the gender of the person in a story matter? If I had to fall in love with a lamp post, then that’s my reality. So, it didn’t matter at all,” Devaiah signs off.

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