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The Sleeping Buddha | An Interview with Anirban Chakraborty

Gender preference does not define you. Your spirit defines you.

Interviewed by Amit Mondal

Marriage of two heterosexual people is always seen in society as perfect and apt. But if the marriage happens between a heterosexual woman and a homosexual man, it becomes a tragedy and might lead to unhealthy altercations. “The Sleeping Buddha” is one such film which deals with this issue. In the film, Gunjan is the beautiful wife who wants her husband’s love and affection; but to no avail. Her husband, Buddha is gay which becomes an obstacle to their happiness.

“The Sleeping Buddha” is a story of tri-angular love.

Cult Critic (CC): Why did you select a hill-station for the setting of your movie?

Anirban Chakraborty (AC): There are two reasons behind it. First, I’m a nature-lover. The captivating beauty of the mountains attracts me much. Moreover, it gave me an added facility to create a visual bewitchment among the audience. Secondly, I think that any subconscious desire or feeling comes out in a favourable circumstance and in a remote hill-station like Takdah or Sittong, the intense natural isolation, the placid cast of beauty and the intoxicating atmosphere are immensely helpful to evoke any kind of suppressed romantic desire, it may be homosexual, heterosexual or bisexual. So, both technically and thematically the hill-station, as a setting, has helped me immensely to capture the mood, tempo and spirit of the film.

CC:  What made you choose such a sensitive and important issue for your movie?

AC : For my movies I always like to select delicate social issues which reflect different shades of feelings, emotions, hopes and aspirations. Since the verdict of Honorable Supreme Court in favor of LGBTQ+ love and sex on September 6, 2018, the LGBTQ+ relationship has been a burning social issue in India. In my opinion, the so called “modern” Indian society is still too immature to consider any unusual relationship normal. I have chosen this sensitive issue just to highlight the truth that if we are still unaware of and insensitive to such delicate issues, many tragedies like that in the lives of Buddha and Gunjan will happen.

CC : In your personal experience, do you see queer people finding an equal footing in contemporary society right now without having to hide their identity?

AC : Unfortunately it is not so. I think that the queer people still have a hesitation to express themselves fully. It’s actually not their fault. The orthodoxy still prevalent in our society deters them from unfurling their minds. They actually suffer from identity crisis. So it’s time to educate ourselves about the feelings and emotions of the queer people. We need understand them properly so that they are not forced to suppress their oppressed souls and find an equal footing in society without hiding their identity.

CC : Do you think the concept of bisexuality confuses a typical heteronormative society even more than homosexuality?

AC : Yes. I totally agree with you. Actually the main problem is that unlike bisexuality homosexuality can be traced in a singular relation. It is very difficult for a heterosexual person to identify his/her mate as bisexual. So indeed it can create confusion. The one and only solution of this problem lies in the fact that the queer people should have the right to flaunt their “unusual” identity very proudly without facing any social taunt and the society should permit it with a humane mentality.

CC :  Do you see any strides of improvement being made right now for the LGBTQ+ community in society?

AC : Yes. As I said earlier, after the verdict of Honourable Supreme Court in favour of LGBTQ+ love and sex on September 6, 2018, many strides of improvement are being made for the LGBTQ+ community. The queer people are now given opportunity officially to compete with others in different fields. Many NGOs and organizations are working for the welfare of this community. But still there is a kind of prejudice among the common people against this community. I think and hope that this problem will be solved very soon and the entire society will come forward to embrace the members of this community as normal human beings.

CC:  Did you face any challenges while shooting the film due to the topic?

AC : Fortunately I did not face any challenge during shooting. I discussed thoroughly with my unit-members about this topic in the workshops. So all of them were mentally prepared for it. At the shooting-spots the resort-owners also helped us immensely and made sufficient arrangement for the shooting. Moreover, the bed-scene was shot closed-door. For all these reasons I think we were able to complete the shooting safely and uninhibitedly.

CC: How does the definition of someone’s identity depend on his spirit rather than on his gender preference?

AC : I think that in most cases the queer mentality is the product of unusual psychology. The disparity between physical texture and psychological desire creates queerness in behaviour. Actually our physical urge is triggered by our psychological desire and mental hunger. So, for example, if a person is male in physique and female in spirit, we consider him queer. But the most interesting point is that any queer person is very much conscious about his/her queerness and tries to suppress it due to the hostility of society. But irrespective of gender a queer person always considers his/her own identity according to his/her spirit or mental desire and tries to establish it in any favourable situation.  

CC : Should bisexuality and homosexuality co-exist in society? What’s your view?

AC : Why not? Apparently the problem behind the co-existence of bisexuality and homosexuality is the problem of identification and this problem is enhanced when any person of this community is forced to suppress his/her identity due to the hostility of society. If our society is liberal enough to accept bisexuality and homosexuality as normal as masculinity and femininity, the queer persons need not suppress their actual identity and they can choose their partners freely and shamelessly. In that case there will be no problem if bisexuality and homosexuality co-exist in our society.

CC : Who has served as your inspiration in becoming a filmmaker?

AC : Actually my unquenched thirst to watch films has served as an inspiration and made me a filmmaker. Since my childhood I have been watching different types of films of different types of filmmakers. I have been inspired by each and every filmmaker. But at the same time my hunger has not been appeased by any particular filmmaker. Suddenly in 2016 the thought of being a filmmaker peeped into my mind and since then I have been trying to make something that the audience can call “film”.

CC : Your suggestions for filmmakers wanting to make films on important and sensitive topics.

AC : I think that to make films on sensitive topics the filmmakers must follow the “golden mean”, as said by Aristotle. It means that the filmmakers must not be too much defensive or too much offensive in treatment of the topic. Moreover, the filmmakers should not be prejudiced or partial to treat any sensitive issue. Any sensitive issue should be presented in films objectively, liberally and impartially. I think that the audience is wise enough to trace the true essence of the topic and to make them understand a film need not be Aesop’s Fables.

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