'Gay' Bollywood Movie 'Dostana' & Religious Censorship + William Friedkin Remembers 'The Boys in the Band'

Gay Bollywood Movie Dostana John AbrahamJohn Abraham in 'Dostana' wallpaper

'Gay' Bollywood film 'Dostana' banned in Pakistan: Gay marriage, 'propagation of homosexuality' to blame

Produced by Karan Johar, and written and directed by Tarun Mansukhani, the Miami-set comedy Dostana, starring Bollywood idols Abhishek Bachchan and John Abraham, has been banned in Pakistan. Here's why:

“A single bench of [Pakistan's] high court passed the order on Friday [November 14, 2008] on a writ petition filed by Khuram Khan. The court held that the movie [Dostana] propagates homosexuality, which is not only illegal in [the] Islamic Republic of Pakistan but also considered a crime punishable by whipping, imprisonment, or even death,” reported the Indian publication DNA.

DNA adds that “the petitioner maintained that Dostana promotes gay marriage which is prohibited in Islam and all other religions. Gay marriage is an atrocious and obscene act, more likely to be performed by someone of unsound nature, the petitioner said.” (Update: According to a November 24 Queeristan article, “the [Dostana] ban has been lifted for 4 theaters in Lahore. A country-wide screening will be allowed after the Pakistan Film Censor Board gives its final consent!”)

In Dostana, Abhishek Bachchan and John Abraham play two 100 percent studly heteros who must pass for two 100 percent swishy homos in order to:

  • a) rent an apartment with a hot chick (Priyanka Chopra) – whom they both end up lusting after;
  • b) ensure that one of them will not be deported.

Item b) is apparently what leads to the issue of gay marriage. Now, since gay marriage isn't recognized in Florida, it's unclear whether Dostana's swishy studs – studly swishers? – take a side trip to Massachusetts, or perhaps The Netherlands or Nepal (more on that below).

Dostana sounds like a tragedy – or worse, like Adam Sandler's I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry – but it's been labeled a comedy. Gotta wait and see.

Gay marriage in Nepal?

Now, gay marriage in Nepal? Yeah, Nepal. Check this out.

Perhaps some time in the not-too-distant future, California – and Pakistan? – will be following the Nepalese trend. Now, don't laugh at my inclusion of Pakistan. After all, history has not infrequently shown that today's ultra-reactionary, bigoted culture may be tomorrow's revolutionary cultural trendsetter. (Though Nepal isn't quite a “revolutionary cultural trendsetter” yet; take a look at this 2006 The Advocate article on police attacking transgender people in that country.)

Meanwhile, self-proclaimed cultural trendsetter California better watch it. It's already lagging behind.

Hindu radical's censorship efforts successful: 'Through the Eyes of Painter' withdrawn from Goa film festival

Also worth mentioning, the radical nationalist Hindu groups Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Jananagruti have succeeded in getting the International Film Festival of India, held in the old Portuguese territory of Goa, to withdraw Maqbool Fida Husain's 1967 documentary short Through the Eyes of Painter, reports Agence France-Presse.

In the mid-'90s, Husain – who has been called India's Picasso – found himself at the center of an uproar over his paintings of nude Hindu goddesses, for which he was sued and received death threats from Hindu fanatics. The 93-year-old Husain currently divides his time between London and Dubai.

The 39th Goa Film Festival – all the poorer for having caved in to censorship forces – comes to a close on December 2, 2008.

John Abraham in Dostana wallpaper image: Dharma Productions.

The Boys in the Band by William Friedkin

William Friedkin Remembers 'The Boys in the Band'

In the Chicago Sun-Times, Thomas Conner interviews William Friedkin upon the DVD release of the 1970 drama The Boys in the Band, which was adapted by Mart Crowley from his own 1968 off-Broadway play about a group of some very sad and very bitter gay men – and one token (self-proclaimed) straight guy – who get together for a birthday celebration. “I knew a lot of people like those people,” Crowley later said of his whiny characters. “The self-deprecating humor was born out of a low self-esteem, from a sense of what the times told you about yourself.”

I saw the film years ago and I actually liked it. Not sure if I'd feel the same today, so I probably should check out the DVD, which features an audio track with commentary by both Friedkin and Crowley. And I can't help but wonder if Crowley would have come up with a radically different play (and, as a result, a radically different movie) had he waited another couple of years – the Stonewall riots took place in 1969 – to write it.

“With a screenplay peppered with many memorable lines” writes Raymond Murray at TLA Video, “The Boys in the Band is a pre-liberation classic which is dated but hilarious and at times surprisingly offensive to current gay sensibility. It's also an important step in the depiction of gays in film.”

In the cast: Kenneth Nelson, Peter White (who remains active), Leonard Frey (who would be nominated for a best supporting actor Academy Award the following year for Fiddler on the Roof), Cliff Gorman (who delivers the film's best performance), Frederick Combs, Laurence Luckinbill, Keith Prentice, Robert La Tourneaux, and Reuben Greene. As per the IMDb, five of the film's principals (Frey, Nelson, La Tourneaux, Combs, and Prentice) have died of AIDS-related complications.

Here's one snippet from the Conner/Friedkin interview:

Q. What reservations did you have about doing a gay film in the late 1960s?

A. Personally, none. I had a harder time setting up The French Connection and Exorcist than Boys. … I knew that gay characters had not been portrayed on film in any significant way at all, so I knew this would push the envelope in a lot of places around the country and to a lot of people. I was most surprised that most of the negative attitudes about it came from organized gay groups. All that's changed over the years. You look at [online] postings about it now and the reviews are fantastic. They view it as the way gay life was at the time and is no longer. A lot of critics felt it was trying to keep gay people in a kind of ghetto, in the closet, but now look back and see that it really opened doors to gay characters on TV and in all walks of life as people in the culture.

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4 Comments to 'Gay' Bollywood Movie 'Dostana' & Religious Censorship + William Friedkin Remembers 'The Boys in the Band'

  1. RobertABC

    Waited for years to see this movie because of negative reviews I had heard…finally saw it on Turner Classic..and was pleasantly surprised..I dont know if I felt an attraction to the early seventies setting..the sexual carefree time..the Townhouse lol..but I feel the characters are the same as I experienced for years..I cant imagine having friends who treated each other the way they do in the movie..but then Im comfortable alone….but unfortunately witnessed the same behaviour over my years and have tried to avoid it…..I dislike hearing that the Men whine..but thats a critique..I am very private and rather miss the days of privacy..but then the young men have changed things drastically and the shame taught us by our parenst seems to be gone…the addiction issues are more concerning in the movie than anything else to me ..I think they bring on some of the other..and even though the movie can be disturbing I still find myself rewatching it and wondering what it would be like again without having to have safe sex…no labeled terrorists, no airline screening, all the STDs, etc….Ill be purchasing the Anniversary CD…

  2. John

    According to Genelia D'Souza, John rules bollywood because he is very handsome and sexy ;)

  3. Andre

    Marlon Brando plays a Jewish guru in the 1968 comedy “Candy” directed by Christian Marquand. Could that be it?

  4. Maven

    I remebver people talking about the movie back in the 70's and always wanted to see it so I was happy to find it in full on YouTube. It was a great play and a great movie. I have not experienced such intellectual stimulation for a while.

    I have been trying to get a list of alternative American movies of the 1970's (I don't mean schlok horror, hippiesploitation movies and stuff, but genuine attempts to explore asspects not found in the main cinema) on the net but cannot locate one. The closest is the title of this website.

    I remember one movie where I think it was a Jewish guru who had taken to living in a sack on a rooftop in New York and was famous for his philosophical work 'Hoffnungs Lozikeit' I can never track this movie down and can't remember the title.

    I know that there were lots of movies made under the freedom gained by the pot culture but cannot find a list anywhere on the net. Some of these movies were shown in few cinemas and it would be great to bring them to light once again.

    Blessed are those who put up films on YouTube, Woody's 'Small Time Crooks' for instance which I have watched several times.