In a country which refuses to de-criminalize the right of consenting adults of the same gender to explore, enjoy and nurture a sexual relationship with each other, the delicate yet definite manner in which the subject was taken up in Kapoor and Sons blew me away. It is indeed courageous that a mainstream actor, in a film that caters to the mainstream audience would want to take up a role that might have serious repercussions on his image as the alpha male, especially in a conservative society like India.
So, in the film Rahul Kapoor (Fawad Khan) is your ‘apple of the eye’ eldest son in the dysfunctional Kapoor family. He makes his living as a successful novelist in a foreign country and is the kind of son that the parents decide to call first, before his less responsible younger kid in the family, when the grandfather suffers a heart stroke. He is the one with whom the parents share the financial concerns of family, and the mamma’s boy and the perfect son is also a slight eyesore for the younger one Arjun, who resents being the second favourite of the parents.
And then comes the revelation. When the mother accidentally stumbles upon the photos on his laptop, of his cozying up with his boyfriend, the image she had of her ‘perfect son’ shatters. When she confronts him with the truth, and asks him why did he lie for so many years, he replies- “I can apologise for lying, but not for who I am”. And this is where we know the change comes in, and before we even know it, we feel for him for the unfairness of the mother’s accusations when she says that he has disappointed her in not living up to her expectations.
Throughout the movie, the portrayal of Rahul Kapoor is such that you could never have guessed his sexuality had his mother not found out the truth. He is not labelled with ugly stereotypes of being effeminate, and there is no mockery or joke on the subject, which are supposedly made to bring the hush-hush topic out of the closet. His admission of being ‘queer’ in the so-called normal society surprises you, even touches you, but nowhere unsettles your mind. In fact, the subtlety in which the topic is introduced, and the gradual acceptance of the mother efficiently brings the questions of the need of acceptance of a person’s identity and choices to the fore.
Earlier the movie Aligarh had also advocated the right to equality and privacy by depicting the trials faced by a homosexual Professor who was suspended for having a consensual sex with rickshaw puller in the confines of his home. The movie, unfortunately did not reach the masses. With the example of Kapoor and Sons however, I believe it will help if these issues are taken up popular media, films and literature. Only then this ‘elephant in the room’ will be visible and discussed!