Ballsy solo projects are not a new thing for Mumbai-based lifestyle photographer Monisha Ajgaonkar. The last time we spoke to her for something similar was when she had just finished shooting her first solo project Unmasked—a series of vivid pictures that spoke about denial of one’s sexual orientation. That was somewhere in 2015. It’s 2017, and Ajgaonkar is back with something similar, this time in video format.
Love. No Boundaries, is a two-minute short film that voices the idea of acceptance of the LGBTQ community in India. It artistically portrays that at the end of the day we are all people, and people fall in love, and love has nothing to do with gender.
“I wanted to make this film because I believe that there is such little knowledge and recognition given to the lesbian community in India that a lot of women are afraid to express their sexuality, and often stay in the closet and, are unhappy, and with this video I wanted to change that perception of the acceptance of homosexual relationships in India, and the expression of women’s sexuality,” highlights Ajgaonkar.
We catch up with Ajgaonkar, who tells us more about the inceptions of the idea, the theme of the film and more.
How did the idea of Love. No Boundaries come about—can you tell us a little about how the idea grew into a video?
Since the beginning of my career, I have been innovative in the expression of sexuality through photography and videography. I believe that it’s important for people to be able to express their sexuality without feeling threatened. As part of the LGBTQ community, I have been actively propagating the recognition needed by the lesbian community, and so I ideated and conceptualised this project.
I wanted to make this film because I feel that there is a void in the recognition of the lesbian community in India. I attribute that the transgender and gay communities have been exceptional at promoting and shining a light to their communities and making them heard, however, there is not much being done towards the lesbian community in our country.
Through this film, I want people in India to overcome the stigma associated with being in same-sex relationships and want women to be able to openly talk about their sexuality. I want people of all ages and gender in India to watch this short film and understand that same-sex marriage is just the same as any heterosexual marriage—it’s the union of two souls that love each other, without boundaries and it has nothing to do with gender.
What does the video talk about—themes and references you would like to highlight?
In the video, we see the bride a little lost in thought on her wedding day. At the back of her head, she knows that her family won’t be there to celebrate with her on her big day, but she knows she is doing the right thing and has no second thoughts about marrying the love of her life. However, just before walking down the aisle she receives a call from her mother which takes her by surprise. Her mother tells her that she is happy for her and she should always follow her heart and that she is doing the right thing. The video then cuts to the bride marrying the love of her life surrounded by her friends and loved ones in a beautiful garden ceremony.
I also think that since people have little knowledge about the lesbians in India, most of them label women who are tomboyish and have a manly character as lesbians, however, that is not true. I believe that sexuality is not confined to appearance, it is innate, and with this project, I wanted to shine a light towards the blocked mindsets people have about appearance and sexuality.
This is your second solo project (first was Unmasked) that voices the idea of acceptance of the LGBTQ Community, what pushes you to take these creative steps? Have things changed since we last spoke? Also, how can we bridge this gap?
The thing that pushes me to do these creative projects is to represent the LGBTQ group, especially the lesbian circle. Further, since I am part of this community and a creative person, I have the ability to change people’s perception through imagery—which is the most powerful medium in the world today.
I think that there has been a massive growth in the acceptance of the LGBTQ community in the Indian society since we last spoke, and to constantly progress in this direction towards getting people of all ages and gender in India to be comfortable with our community, means that people in our circuit need to constantly put themselves out in every field they are a part of—be it media, publishing, fashion, dance, art, politics, or anything that can help get our group the recognition it deserves.
I think the LGBTQ community has come a far way since the last time we spoke, and is on its way to bigger and better things, especially after the court’s ruling that highlighted the fact that sexual orientation is a part of your fundamental right to privacy. This gave a degree of acceptance to the LGBTQ community in parts of conservative India.
Anything we missed, that you would like to add?
This project would not have been possible without all the vendors that agreed to make this project a success.
Cast: Deeptii Mohan, Monisha Ajgaonkar
Director: Archana Thapliyal
Shot by: Manish Usapkar
Script: Rajdeep Ghosh
Voice Over: Komal Chhabria
Post production: Magic Farm Studio (Mumbai)
Planner: One Stop Entertainment (Mumbai)
Set design and styling: Altair Décor (Mumbai)
Florals: Floral Art by Srishti (Mumbai)
Costumes and Styling: Label D by Dimple Shroff
Hair and Makeup: Shamlee Bhagat (Mumbai)
Jewellery: MK Jewels (Mumbai)
Location: Jade Garden (Mumbai)
Video: The Photo Diary
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