In the South Indian region of Kannada, director and producer Bhavaji V has created the film 141, or I Love U. This film is unique as it is the first in the region to depict lesbianism as the main plot point. 141 is set to be released this month; however, advertising for the film has been stymied by the Regional Censor Board, which has stalled the film for a year and a half. The film will be released in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu, and will be dubbed into Telegu and Tamil.
While advertising, stills, and a plot summary are hard to find, the film depicts the story of Tanya, a white woman with an Indian boyfriend, who meets Kavya, who also has a boyfriend in the trailer. From what I can gather (as I am not versed enough in any of the languages this movie has been dubbed into to get a clear read), the two women seem to meet and form a friendship that grows into a relationship over the course of the film. The director set out to create a film that depicts lesbianism and the backlash that the couple faces by society. In a case of life imitating art, this media has faced severe backlash from the Regional Censor Board and the Karnataka Film Chambers of Commerce. Additionally, Bhavaji V is now being threatened, and is considering seeking police protection in the coming weeks as the film airs.
In addition to not allowing advertising of the film, the movie has been given an “A Certificate,” which on the rating scale stands for “Adult Content,” despite the filmmaker stating that the film does not contain anything particularly “adult” in nature.
Indian lesbian films are not by any means new. Films such as Dedh Ishqiya, Girlfriend, and Fire have broken that ground previously. However a film specifically made for South Indian audiences with an interracial couple is what is interesting about this film’s conception. The question now becomes whether this film can and should be added to a larger media framework of LGBT cinema that can be deemed as groundbreaking. This story of two women forming a friendship, falling in love, and meeting societal resistance is not a new one. Such films are widespread across many cultures, and as this story has been done over and over again, many are clamoring for more complex stories.
Additionally, the trailer indicates that this film seems to be particularly cheesy and poorly edited, so while my hopes are not high for the quality and content of the film, it is nonetheless exciting to see Indian filmmakers taking risks.
Sources: India Today
Mehek Naresh is an Indian American lesbian, living and working in Florida after recently graduating with a Bachelors in Political Science. Her hobbies seeking out small talk with cashiers, reading, and spending more time staring at tumblr than she’d care to admit.