View: Strike down Section 377 as it has no place in today’s India

Written by Vikram Doctor,
Jan 13, 2018

For The Economic Times

If, in the course of this year, the Supreme Court of India finally declares that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) must stop criminalising consenting adults in same sex relationships, it will be almost 18 years since the current battle to change the law began.

In the current state of the Supreme Court, of course, all bets are off. But if it happens, it will mean a generation of young lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) people will have come of age in the time taken to fight the case. They have helped change the world in which the case is being heard, and will determine where the future challenges for LGBT people will lie.

In all this time, of course, the basic logic of the case has never changed. It was always absurd to treat people as criminals for something intrinsic to them. It was always absurd that love between consenting adults is subject to the censure of the state.

And it was always absurd beyond belief that the 19th century British law that underpins this, continues to apply in such a different time and place. Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the UK removing the law itself, and yet that same proscription continues to apply in India.

But if the reason for the case has never changed, the context in which it was fought has. Partly it was time and the transformation in the world at large. With most of the world moving towards acceptance and the matter-of-fact integration of openly LGBT people into regular aspects of life, India is an increasingly awkward fit with the mostly fervently religious countries that still strongly oppose LGBT rights.

New Horizons
The growth of new industries in the digital, service-oriented and creative fields has also increased the push towards LGBT rights. It’s not quite correct to assume the older industries of manufacturing, farming and resource extraction were intrinsically homophobic. The British film Pride, based on a true story of gays and miners supporting each other in the Thatcher years, showed how attitudes can change and, trade unions today are often strongly LGBT supportive.

But the newer industries allowed for greater diversity — in fact, required it, since success in them came from mental and physical skills that weren’t, literally, embodied in how one looked or behaved. Knowledge-driven industries couldn’t afford to lose the people they needed just because of their race, sex or who they slept with. And countries that saw such industries as their future had to realise the same.

One of the unexpected beneficiaries of the call-centre boom were young LGBT kids from middle-class families and small towns. At one time such kids would have had no option but to follow their families’ choices for them, getting married before they had any real chance to understand their sexualities. But call centres, with their constant need for new young workers, offered them jobs at just that young adult phase.

The salaries often equalled what their parents earned, so couldn’t be countered. Best of all, all that mattered was your voice and how you used it, not how you looked and who you flirted with. Call centres opened horizons by specifically teaching their young workers to deal respectfully with possibly gay and lesbian customers abroad — an important lesson for their straight workers as much as their gay ones.

Homophobes often fume about the entertainment world promoting LGBT rights, not least because so many LGBT people work there. This is, again, not entirely right since the entertainment industry is as profit-driven and risk averse as any mainstream industry and has actually tended to lag social change in how they show the LGBT community. Hollywood, as much as Bollywood, is happiest with the unchallenging stereotypes used for mainstream entertainment, in Will & Grace as much as Dostana.

But in the end, the entertainment industry catches up and, rather than influencing change, is a barometer for how much has changed. The fact that a gay romance like Call Me By Your Name is a top Oscar contender — just a year after a gay film like Moonlight won — reliably indicates mainstream acceptance, as much as the now fairly routine inclusion of LGBT characters in Bollywood shows. When Sridevi, in her hit film English Vinglish, reproved a homophobic comment about her gay English teacher, she sent a quiet message not just to young people watching, but also their parents’ generation, who would have idolised her.

Perhaps the biggest sign of how far change has come was provided by the anti-Section 377 legal battle itself. The recent stimulus in the process came from a new petition filed by a group of LGBT people, led by the noted dancer Navtej Singh Johar. This might seem routine, but in fact represented something new since none of the petitions in the past involved LGBT people themselves.

The reason for this was simple. When a law defines someone as a criminal, it is hard to challenge it for fear of losing, and having one’s criminal status confirmed. Reading the actual wording of Section 377, where the punishment prescribed is “imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years” is an excellent deterrent to challenging it.

Legal Raps
Around 2000, when activists in India started considering filing a challenge, no LGBT person was willing to take the risk of becoming a petitioner. Instead, Naz India Foundation, an organisation headed by Anjali Gopalan, that dealt with HIV prevention — working with the Lawyers Collective, headed by Anand Grover — filed a case based on the problems Section 377 caused in preventing the spread of HIV.

Because gay men are at high risk for contracting HIV, any effective programme needs to be able to address them — but this was hard when they were also at a risk of being arrested. (The argument that the law itself prevents the spread of HIV by deterring gay men from having sex simply doesn’t work in practice. It just drives homosexual behaviour further underground and makes it harder to tackle the HIV risk.)

An earlier attempt had in fact been made in 1994 by the AIDS Bhedbhav Virodhi Andolan (ABVA), a NGO that was stung into doing it by the news that Kiran Bedi, the highprofile police officer in charge of Tihar Jail, had banned the use of condoms to control HIV. Any use of condoms there, she reasoned, would be for homosexual sex and that would contravene Section 377. ABVA’s petition challenged this inconsistency between trying to prevent the spread of HIV and upholding the law. It was an important step, but perhaps too soon to expect logic to prevail and the case languished and was eventually dismissed.

The case filed by Naz in 2001 did progress, though with several set-backs. At one point, the Delhi High Court threw it out on the grounds that Naz had no locus standi, since no LGBT people were directly shown as victims. This was appealed in the Supreme Court, which agreed that the matter was important and that Naz has locus, and the case went back to the Delhi High Court. To bolster the campaign, an organisation called Voices Against 377 was formed and also filed a petition.

In July 2009, a Delhi High Court bench made up of Chief Justice AP Shah and Justice S Muralidhar finally delivered a victory with a verdict strongly supporting LGBT rights. But this was immediately challenged in the Supreme Court and to defend it several petitions were filed — from a group of parents of LGBT people, a group of teachers, a group of psychiatrists and the filmmaker Shyam Benegal in his individual capacity.

Despite this formidable line-up of support, and the considerable legal talent that came on board to represent the petitioners, in December 2014, Supreme Court Justices GS Singhvi and SJ Mukhopadhaya overturned the earlier verdict in their decision of Suresh Kumar Koushal vs Naz Foundation. A great deal of analysis has gone into exposing the flaws in the Koushal decision, but perhaps the most quietly damning comment came from retired Justice Leila Seth, in a piece written in the Times of India in January 2014. Beyond all the deficiencies in the verdict, she wrote she was pained by how “the interpretation of law is untempered by any sympathy for the suffering of others”. There was ample evidence that LGBT people suffered under the law, but the verdict refused to consider this.

There was an echo here, perhaps, to another famous setback for LGBT rights — the 1986 US case of Bowers vs Hardwick where the US Supreme Court declined to strike down the rights of states to discriminate against homosexuals (this was reversed 16 years later in the case of Lawrence vs Texas). The deciding vote in that case came from Justice Lewis Powell who later told one of his law clerks that he didn’t think he had ever met a homosexual. In reality, he had at least two gay clerks, but who were never open about their sexuality. Powell later admitted that his decision in Bowers might have been a mistake.

Direct Approach
The lessons activists have drawn from this story is that in pushing for change those who desire it most must be open about who they are and why they want the change. Menaka Guruswamy, the Supreme Court lawyer behind the recent petition filed by Johar and other LGBT people, felt that the case had to have this. “There is something very basic to law about it,” she says. “You approach the Court directly saying that you have been harmed by the law and you want it to change. It is a very powerful position.”

Even now, she admits, it wasn’t easy. Many people whom she approached had cold feet at the last minute, but finally, this time, she got a group of LGBT people willing to stand up for themselves in court. Johar was joined by his partner, journalist Sunil Mehra, chef, restaurateur and author Ritu Dalmia, hotelier and writer Aman Nath and business consultant Ayesha Kapur.

On January 8 this year, Chief Justice Dipak Misra passed an order directing that their case be taken up for hearing before a larger bench: “Social morality also changes from age to age. The law copes with life and accordingly change takes place,” he wrote. And in a sentence that stands as a rebuke to that lack of sympathy in Koushal criticised by Justice Seth, he wrote firmly: “A section of people or individuals who exercise their choice should never remain in a state of fear.”

What happens next is an open question, especially given the current state of turmoil of the court. Yet it is also a sign of how much attitudes have changed that, in view of all the highly contentious matters facing the court — the Babri Masjid, the beef ban in Maharashtra, aspects of Aadhaar — the fate of Section 377 seems relatively less trouble to decide.

In all the other matters, it will be impossible to deliver a verdict that will not inflame some section of society. Deciding against Section 377 will definitely provoke some criticism, but much of the media, most social influencers and young people in large numbers will support the decision. Even most major political parties are now tacitly in support, even if they are unable to pass any legislation on Section 377 themselves — the general feeling seems to me that any action is best done by the Supreme Court.

A decision to declare Section 377 inapplicable to consenting adults would also be applauded around the world. Based on simple population statistics, a decision to change the law would, at one shot, remove the stigma of being deemed a criminal from more than one-sixth of all LGBT people in the world. It would be one of the largest leaps for human rights at any one time anywhere.

Whatever turmoil the Supreme Court is currently heading into, it should not come in the way of coming to a decision that is long overdue and striking down a law that has no place in India today.

India’s New Age gurus believe sexuality may be fluid – but not brutal structures of caste, gender

Written by Devdutt Pattanaik

Published on 16th November, 2017, on

The celebrated guru Ravi Shankar recently spoke about sexuality in a way that shocked even his ardent supporters. Assumed to be a supporter of LGBTIQ rights, he referred to sexuality as a transitory tendency: gay people can become “normal or straight” and vice versa. In doing so, he tacitly, intentionally or accidentally legitimised the unscientific conversion therapy used by quacks around the world to torture gay and lesbian people to fit the heteronormative mould.

He went on to advise a victim of homophobic abuse to consider rising above sexual tendencies and seek his true identity, by which he meant the true self beyond the ego: the atma or brahman. He was referring to the Vedanta doctrine that views the flesh and all things physical and material as transitory, hence inferior to true permanent transcendental identity.

If sexuality offers an inferior identity, where does one locate gender, caste, religious and national identities? Is the transitory pursuit of fame, wealth, power and glamour (artha) not as base as the pursuit of transitory pleasure (kama)? Why then are rich industrialists, powerful politicians and Bollywood stars not treated with the same disdain reserved for people demanding LGBTIQ rights?

Ravi Shankar’s comments need to be assessed in the context of 21st century gurus who show effortless comfort with wealth and power, but distinct discomfort with matters of gender and sexuality, sex scandals notwithstanding. This needs to be explored historically and doctrinally.
Monasticism in India

It all started 2,500 years ago. Gautama of the Sakya clan, disgusted by death and decay, abandoned his wife and newborn son, walked out on his palace and his kingdom, went to the forest to be a hermit and eventually became Buddha, the awakened one. He proceeded to establish a monastic order which preached that “desire is the cause of suffering”. In the rules for monks, men were warned against all forms of temptation, especially women. Buddhism valorised the rejection of women, and family life, by placing monks on a pedestal. Buddhism was among the first religions to frame rules explicitly prohibiting the ordination of homosexuals, who were seen as having excessive uncontrollable lust, even more than women.

This model of the world, with the celibate monk at the top, is found in Jainism too – though Jains insist their doctrine is eternal (sanatan) – with Mahavira, a contemporary of Buddha, being the last of the last set of 24 Tirthankaras, who appear in each of the infinite world cycles (kalpa). In Jain cosmogony, the Tirthankaras sit high above in the highest heaven of Siddha-loka, having achieved isolation (kaivalya) from all impurities born of desire, attachment, and action (karma). Below them are lesser beings, in various degrees of desire and attachment. Above are the shramanas, or hermits, who strive for freedom from the material and the sensory. Below are the shravakas, or householders, who cannot break free from the material or sensory but increase chances of liberation in a future life by serving hermits. The lowest are the demons most foul, in Naraka or hell, most material and least spiritual.

Early Hindus resisted this monastic model. Marriage was a key rite of passage (samskara) in Dharmashastras, Hindu scriptures that are contemporaneous with the Buddhist Dhammapada. But eventually monasticism became mainstream about 1,200 years ago, following the rise of Adi Shankaracharya.

In popular lore, Shankara was responsible for overthrowing Buddhism in India. In reality, according to critics, he was a crypto-Buddhist who appropriated Buddhist ideas into Hinduism, cleverly turning the doctrine of emptiness (shunya-vada) into the doctrine of delusion (maya-vada), and eventually assimilated Buddhist monastic practices into Hinduism. Shankara’s defenders will argue that he rectified Buddhist distortion of the Vedic view that the world is real and permanent (sat) but appears unreal and transitory (asat) owing to ignorance (avidya), and that monasticism was always there in Hinduism. That Shankara defeated Mandana Mishra, a much married householder and upholder of the old form of Vedic query (purva-mimansa), and made him a hermit and champion of his new school of Vedic query (uttara-mimansa, or Vedanta) suggests monasticism was a later development.

Buddha said everything is transitory. Adi Shankara also said that everything is transitory except the soul (brahman). The notion of the permanent cosmic soul, which Hindus call God, distinguishes Hindu monasticism from Buddhist monasticism. This soul is visualised as male as Vishnu and Shiva, and is seen as superior to the body and the world, imagined as female as Lakshmi or Shakti. The relative importance of soul over flesh, of God over Goddess, distinguish Vedanta from Tantra, a parallel school that challenges monastic Hinduism.

In various Hindu monastic orders (matha, akhara) since Adi Shankaracharya, great value is placed on the male celibate ascetic who shuns women and family life, encourages his disciples to rise above all desire and worldliness, and just does seva as Hanuman, the celibate monkey, served Ram – divine hero of the epic Ramayana, moral form of Vishnu on earth – without seeking anything in return. Ram, in turn, creates Ram-rajya, serving the people unconditionally.

But while Hanuman is celibate, Ram is not. In temples, Ram is always with Sita. In chants, it is always Siya Ram. They form the divine pair, thus complete (purna). Contrast this with the RSS, which valorises celibacy and so shuns from showing Ram with Sita. Even Adityanath, the celibate yogi chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, speaks of erecting a statute of Ram, representing the single warrior, rather than of Sita-Ram, the divine couple in conjugal bliss. This importance to wife, to family, to worldliness, to wealth and power and pleasure, is part of the Tantrik worldview, not the monastic Vedantic worldview.

In Buddhist and Jain shrines, the male-female couple (maithuna) is always present as yaksha-yakshi, but in an inferior position to the celibate Buddha or Tirthankara. By contrast, in Hindu shrines, the male-female couple is in a dominant position. God is divine because of the Goddess. So Ram has Sita, Shiva has Parvati, Vishnu has Lakshmi, and Krishna has Radha or Rukmini. The marriage of God and Goddess is a major festival in temples, for example Brahmotsavam in Tirupati Balaji, Andhra Pradesh, or Gan-gaur in Rajasthan. This, along with erotic images on temple walls, was a Hindu challenge to the Buddhist-Jain monastic orders.

Temple-based Hinduism, or Agama Hinduism, clearly celebrated the desire and the senses. Buddha may have destroyed Mara, the demon of desire, but Shiva, who destroyed Kama, the god of desire, ended up marrying Kamakshi, the goddess of desire. Be that as it may, in the last thousand years, we see a shift: celibate monks, who either do not enter family life like Shankara and Madhva or renounce it like Ramanuja and Chaitanya, came to wield greater influence over mainstream society and temple complexes. The support of Vijayanagar kings who ruled South India from 14th to 17th centuries for celibate monk-gurus ensured their place in the political scheme of things. Like Brahmins and Buddhists of yore, they legitimised kingship.

When the British ruled India, they gave greater value to the celibate Hindu monks, who reminded them of Jesuit missionaries, than to libertine temple traditions where gods “get married” and go on boat rides with their lovers. Christian missionaries found temple rituals vulgar. In 1862, Sir Mathew Sausse, a British judge of the Bombay high court, even pronounced Krishna guilty of encouraging licentiousness and adultery through the performance of Raas Leela at the Krishna temple in Nathdwara, Rajasthan.

Naturally, 19th century Hindu reform movements, from Brahmo Samaj to Arya Samaj, went out of their way to show “real Hinduism” had nothing to do with the body, or with sex, but it was all about the soul (atma). Thus, Vedanta triumphed over Tantra with a little help from the British.
Body and soul

What distinguishes Indian thought from Western thought is the belief in rebirth. You don’t live one life, you live many lives. Present life is influenced by past deeds. Present deeds influence future lives.

In Western mythology, when you die, your ghost outlives you. And this ghost goes to either heaven or hell. Science rejects this concept of ghost; body is seen as a chemical complex and the notion of self a trick of the mind that ceases to exist after death. But ghost remains a key concept in religions such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In fact, spirituality originally meant communicating with ghosts of ancestors. Later, it meant accessing the “ghost within us”.

But this idea of ghost is complex in Hinduism, owing to the idea of rebirth. In the Gita, we learn the soul wears the body as a fresh garment at the time of birth and discards it as a worn out garment at death. But the quality of the garment is not random, it depends on karma.

So what dies? The body or the soul? Who are we, the body (deha) or the soul that resides in the body (dehi)? And what exactly is the body? Is it the flesh or the mind? What about the social body – our caste, religion, wealth, status, power? What matters really, the social or physical body that can be seen, or the psychological body that cannot be seen? How do we separate “who we are” from “what we have”? Vedanta says that which is permanent is “who we are” and that which is impermanent is “what we have”.

Yogasutra of Patanjali assumes existence of these various concentric bodies (kosha). Through the eight fold path (astha-anga-yoga), it systematically seeks the liberation of “who we are” from “what we have”. Thus, Yama is about our relationship with the outer world; niyama about our behaviour; asana about the body; pranayama about the breath; pratyahara about senses; dharana about using volition to expand the mind to gain perspective; dhyana about using volition to contract and focus the mind; samadhi about enabling intelligence (buddhi) to outgrow ego (aham).

This ego obscures our true identity. It is the crumpled mind, frightened of death and so hungry for life. Animals fear death of the body, hence seek food. Humans fear death of identity, so cling to property, relationships and status. We crave name and fame and wealth and glamour as we yearn for immortality. We know we will die but we delude ourselves that our possessions, including our children, and our legacy and family name, will outlive us. Fear makes us cling to our sexuality and our gender, as much as it makes us cling to our caste and religion. The hermit gave up his clothes and became the naked sky-clad ascetic (digambara) symbolically rejecting his entire body – his social body that includes caste, religion, wealth, power; his physical body that includes gender and sexuality; his psychological body that includes desires and insecurities. The akash purusha, embodiment of the true self, is what is left behind – the soul or the ghost, defined in Vedanta by negation (neti-neti, not this and not that).

Buddha saw clinging to deha as the cause of suffering. He felt through meditation we can un-crumple our mind and break free from the tyranny of identity. When all fears, desires and ideas end, so does our identity. There is no dehi, just emptiness (shunya). The Vedantins argued that when ego ceases to be, there is completeness (purna) and infinity (ananta), which is dehi, which is God, which poets visualised as Vishnu and Shiva. This was the ocean of the divine (param-atma) in which we individual drops (jiva-atma) can merge into. So, while Buddhists spoke of oblivion (nirvana) of the self and Jains of isolation (kaivalya) of the ghost (jiva) from all impurities, Hindus spoke of liberation (moksha) of the ghost from the flesh, and then the union (yoga) of the ghost with God.

The vocabulary of all these liberation-seeking monastic traditions is masculine. Buddha abandons his wife. Shankara or Madhva does not get married. Ramanuja or Chaitanya chooses celibacy over marriage. Shiva and Vishnu, both male, embody param-atma, or cosmic soul. Where are the women?

Women were seen as embodiments of desire. They were linked to the flesh, to matter, and so were seen as inferior to the male, both metaphorically and socially. Women in iconography make their presence felt in Tantra. In Tantrik Buddhism, we see Tara engaging in coitus with Buddha, awakening him, making him aware of the desire of other people, even if he outgrows his own desire. In Tantrik Hinduism, God acknowledges the desires of the Goddess and merges with her to become Ardhanareshwara and Gopi-Krishna.

Tantra acknowledges human desire for control (siddhi) over the world: the power to fly, change shape and size, control things, attract things, dominate people. It does not dismiss sensations (rasa) and emotions (bhava). It is the world of aesthetic delight. It is the world of diversity and hierarchy. Of love and heartbreak. Of power and prestige, of sex and violence. It is the world of the courtesan and the wife, of the marketplace and the crematorium. It is the world where Vishnu has no problem becoming Mohini to make Lakshmi happy, or to enchant Shiva. Here, the Goddess is enshrined with a female companion, not a male consort, as Tara-Tarini or Chamunda-Chotila. Here gender is fluid. Sexuality is fluid. There is no desire to control, and fix the fluid.

The compromise between Buddhist monasticism and Hindu worldliness, between Vedanta and Tantra, is reached when a split is made between the self (sva-jiva) and the other (para-jiva). You are asked to give up desires for the self, but not the world of others. This creates the householder-hermit (raja-rishi) like Janaka, Ram, Krishna, Vikramaditya or Chudala of Yoga Vasistha, who gives but does not seek, and seeks only the control of self, not others.

To seek, or to control the other, is to be dependent. The householder-hermit is independent. He is simultaneously dependable, helping others seek, helping others outgrow their yearning to control others. He does not encourage dependence. Such a raja-rishi is a true guru; he enables others to be raja-rishi too, not dependent but independent and dependable.
Guru as shepherd

Gurus of the 21st century tell followers to be wary of the “trickster mind” and trust the word of the guru. This is not about enabling independence, it is about encouraging dependence. All talk of fluidity of body and desires comes when awkward questions about queer identities and desires are raised. These points are not raised before Bollywood stars, rich industrialists and politicians whose hunger for wealth, power and glamour is visibly insatiable. Rebellion is trivialised. Submission is valorised. Fixed oppressive structures of gender, caste and religion are never rendered fluid. Indian philosophy is fine-tuned to pacify traditional middle-class guilt associated with wealth and power while amplifying guilt over all things pleasurable and desirable that can disrupt social norms.

The guru becomes the shepherd and his followers give up all wolf-like and goat-like aggression and autonomy to become passive submissive sheep, ready to donate wealth and provide free service (seva) to a vast institution that the guru does not own (hence detached), but certainly enjoys (hence engaged). In the shelter of the shepherd, the sheep feel secure. Any criticism of the guru, even for making irresponsible comments in a society hostile to the LGBTIQ community, becomes a threat to that security. Then the hive awakens, and the bees strike.

Romil and Jugal on ALTBalaji


Romil and Jugal is one of the latest ventures on the ALTBalaji web entertainment channel. The website mentions the channel as “a subsidiary of Balaji Telefilms Limited… the Group’s foray into the Digital Entertainment space.” It says that its aim is “to reach out directly to individual audiences, by providing them with original, exclusive and tailor-made shows, that they can access at their fingertips.” And this is absolutely true – well, at least in the case of this new webseries.


Romil and Jugal encapsulates for the first time two male leads who fall in love with each other. It is a pioneering effort by an Indian cast and production team for an Indian audience. Suffice it to say, I have not seen a story that deals with homosexual love by the Indian film or television fraternity so sensitively ever before.


The series has its first season of ten episodes. The first five are free on the channel and the concluding five of the season can be purchased by a minimum fee of Rs 100/- Trust me, it’s a hundred bucks worth spent. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it the Indian version of “Queer as Follk”, it surely is a valiant and very commendable effort to get there.



The story is based loosely on William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”. Romil (Rajeev Siddhartha) belongs to a Delhi-based Punjabi family and Jugal (Manraj Singh) belongs to a South Indian family that hails from Chennai. Rajeev has done a massively powerful enactment of the typical macho man, who has buried his sexuality deep within his consciousness. His coming out process is disturbingly painful and, sadly, what will be vastly relatable to so many from the Indian gay milieu. Jugal has portrayed his role of the guy who knows who he is and keeps a quiet dignity through the series, until the very end where even he goes through a subtle growing up that can only be classified as human. They both have brilliant chemistry on screen and it’s a pleasure to watch them fall in love.


I have never watched Indian television, in decades, because I feel after shows like Tamas, Humlog, Buniyaad, Ye Jo Hai Zindagi, Khaandaan, Indian television didn’t do much in raising the bar in individual empowerment, or even basic good story-telling. I began watching Balika Vadhu at its inception, but look how that turned out. I have no idea how Romil and Jugal will do eventually, but the first season was a brilliant step ahead, in the right direction.


The story follows these two ‘teenagers’ through school. The first crush, the first kiss, the dating, the celebration of love. The scenes that stand out for me particularly, and which were so relatable, was Jugal’s coming out to his family. Personally, I remembered the nights of concern, the utter fear of rejection from the people I love, and finally, the breaking of the dam, as you, with your throat constricting, tell your parents that you are gay. I also in particular loved the character of Meghna, Jugal’s best friend. Most of us gay boys have had that one girl who has stood by us through the darkest of times, and she was completely awesome.  The story is further empowered by brilliantly enacted character roles.


In essence, the writer Ishita Moitra, has tried to give a voice to everyone who has been a part of the gay diaspora. The boys who feel alienated, the friends who support and the friends who reject, the parent who is understanding, the parent who is not, the sister who hurts, loves and accepts, the best friend who protects. These are elements that were such a pleasure to watch. The comedy was necessary, and it wasn’t such that would be cringe-worthy. Maninee Mishra is just terrific casting for this. I understand how the tempo had to be played in order for everyone in the audience to be appeased. (Hopefully, they were, I certainly was.)



I wasn’t surprised to learn that it was directed by a woman, Nupur Asthana. The sensitivity and thoughtfulness to detail, the nuance of what has to be restrained and what has to be shown, all so brilliantly captured by this lady’s vision. Read her take on the series here.


Finally, I must say that whether or not people will watch it, this show will forever be marked in history as the first to boldly go where no one has gone before. Sorry, Trekkie fans, for the cheesy innuendo dealing – but this is exactly how I feel.


A great big thank you and bravo to the entire team of ALTBalaji. Looking forward to Season 2.


– Harpreet Singh


Audience reactions

India Today

Watch the Series here.



Devdutt PATTANAIK – GENDER FLUIDITY in Indian Mythology

Devdutt PATTANAIK’S talk on “Sexual Fluidity in Indian Mythology” – at IIT BOMBAY
The Talk was part of the Queer L!T Fest, organised by SAATHI


“…surveys show that nearly 60% of the LGBT people are harassed in their workplace, whether they are closeted or out… I think though, that if you are out, if you speak up, if you work with your company to create a framework both for you to be treated equally and for a culture of inclusion, it will be a step ahead rather than if you don’t…”