Kaushik Mukherjee: All of us are Polysexuals

As the screening of controversial film Gandu still remains uncertain, we speak to Q, the director of this movie, who thinks that India is on the brink of sexual revolution.
Kaushik Mukherjee or Q's highly controversial film, Gandu is scheduled to be screened with a special permission from the Ministry of Information and Technology on July 15, in spite of it being considered too sexually explicit.
However, the ministry is now said to be having second thoughts and might insist on a disclaimer before the screening, saying that it is for select audience and has not been censored. The fate of the screening will be only known today.
Excerpts of an interview with the director...
Did you expect so much resistance for the film, even while making it?

No. The point of the film, the central premise of the work is sexuality or sexual provocation and also lot of other elements that go with it. This was a simple device to attract attention; otherwise the film would have been brushed off as an art house cinema.
Are you sort of pleased with the shock value the film is getting?

I don't see why it is shocking for us. This kind of provocation has been a part of every kind of culture. What I am doing right now is a clear reference to the kind of postmodern punk or post 90's shock cinema that came from Japan and Korea ¦ a very highly developed form of art. For me, it is difficult to understand why people keep saying that it is something new. All they have to do is simply google about it.
Was it awkward shooting explicit scenes, how did you find like-minded actors?
There was no awkwardness. It's a small and tight team. Most of them are friends. They trust me. Moreover, they are used to the experiences we have all grew up on. All of us watch this kind of cinema.
A film so small, black and white, with only a coloured sex scene, shot on a digital SLR, could you calculate the film's final budget?

Actually, I really don't know it myself. In fact, the financing mode of Gandu could be a case study. You have heard of crowd funding, social funding. This is based on a European model, co-production theory. I will plan the script and the film according to the resources available to me. So I will be working backwards. If the content is not produced or supported by anyone else, we will have to keep doing this. So the economics and the available resources will determine how the film will proceed. Like Artists work on recycled products, it's like that.
This permission from the ministry for just one screening. Was it too much of a hassle?

To be honest, I didn't do anything. Pranav Ashar (see box) is the one who really worked hard to get at least one screening. He has shown that it is possible to organise something like this.
We hear Gandu is the first of the series...

Yes. The real issue is the production of this kind of content. Cinema is seen as a commodity. I am seriously scared of the kind of movies that are being made. The idea of cinema as a capitalist tool is that it should not provoke the audience, but just provide entertainment. I refuse to believe that there aren't more people who think like me, and who want to take action.
Maybe there are. But it takes a lot of courage...

It is a huge risk in a family driven environment. The question being how do you face your mother? The truth is we are made to be ashamed of our sexuality all the time.
Are you going to address homosexuality in some of your later movies?
What is there to deal with homosexuality? It's not something different. Every one of us is polysexual. It is in our culture. Take kama sutra, Upanishads, Vaishav Bahabali, shaivak logic, sexuality is mellifluous.
Yes, to think ours was the most sexually vibrant country...

We actually had reached a pinnacle. Years and years of this conscious effort to understand human sexuality, ideate on that, everything was done, here in India. But once we reached the highest point, decadence set in. It is a circle. The sexual movement has to start rolling again, and probably, now is the time.
On a positive stride...

Speaking about the permissions, Pranav Ashar,  head of Taj Enlightenment film society (which is organising the Naya Film Festival, where Gandu will be screened) is pretty optimistic that the permission will be granted albeit with the disclaimer. "Even earlier we were permitted to screen a film like Inshallah Football.
Gandu will go for censorship soon after. Some cuts will be made by us even before sending it to the censors. The film will also be released in DVDs and most probably with the name changed to G or The Loser, to attract lesser controversies," he said.
Shubha Shetty-Saha
Mid Day, Mumbai
14 July 2011
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