A Filmmaker’s Effort To Take LGBT Cinema To The Masses

Posted on 17 October, 2016 by Team Wishberry

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With films such as Aligarh, Bombay Talkies and even Kapoor And Sons, there hasn’t been a lack of effort to bring in same sex love in mainstream cinema. However, reaching out to the masses like a 200 Cr blockbuster, is what such movies are yet to achieve, according to filmmaker Faraz Ansari. “I want a general person who goes to watch a Bodyguard or any other Shah Rukh or Salman Khan movie to come and watch my film”, says Faraz while mentioning his next movie ‘Ravivaar’, which is currently a work-in-progress.

He recently ran a successful crowdfunding campaign with Wishberry, raising Rs. 4.15 lakhs for his silent LGBTQ film Sisak. 85-90% of the funds coming in from outside the LGBTQ community strengthened his belief about the general audience being ready for accepting same sex love on a larger-than-life commercial entertainment showcase. Faraz explains this further by stating that “this was quite surprising initially as we were always under the impression that India is not ready for cinema that has an LGBTQ protagonist. However, post this experience, I have become very positive about making a mainstream movie about a homosexual person”.

A little bit about Faraz…

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30 year old Faraz Arif Ansari has adopted a variety of roles spanning Writer, Associate Director, Casting Director and Executive Producer during his 8 year stint in the film industry. His resume showcases some popular projects such as Stanley ka Dabba, Deepa Bhatia’s award winning documentary Nero’s Guests and Karan Johar’s Gippi. He also has an independent short feature film Siberia to his name, which has travelled to more than 30 international film festivals and won Best Actor & Best Director Awards.

A bit about Sisak and its crowdfunding prowess

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Sisak is Faraz’s second independent feature film, touted to be India’s first silent LGBTQ movie. It is about two men falling in love with each other in a Mumbai local train over a period of many nights, without any words spoken between them. The crowdfunding campaign for this film on Wishberry was a raging success with the target amount of INR 3 lakhs raised within the first 7 days of the campaign going live.

“The film is about love, which is a universal concept” commented Faraz, explaining how the idea of Sisak just wasn’t restricted to the LGBTQ group but also touched the hearts of people outside the community. Additionally, ‘the connect with the film’ didn’t just stay restricted to Faraz’s friends and family as well. Around 25% of the funding came-in from people whom he didn’t know personally.

The process of reaching out to people with the campaign was purely organic. “I am a film-maker and not a marketing or PR person. The best thing to do is always listen to your heart” stated Faraz. He religiously shared the campaign on his social media platforms and repeatedly pushed his family, friends, cast & crew to do the same. This social media blast ensured that the word spread to as many people as possible, getting him the required funds for the film.  

During the crowdfunding campaign itself, the response received and the impact that Sisak was able to have on people has been very overwhelming for Faraz. Talking about this impact, he added, “So many people had such wonderful stories to share. So many people were asking me for advice if they should come out to their parents. Many have invited me over for luncheons and dinners. Imagine the power of filmmaking!”

Future of Indian Cinema

This wide acceptance for Sisak has inspired him to make his next movie ‘Ravivaar’ with an A-list Bollywood actor playing a homosexual protagonist. “It's not necessary to always dramatize an LGBTQ movie. I want the audience to think of my movie as ‘paisa-vasool’ and at the same time take home a strong message which is going to stick with them for years”, stated Faraz. He looks forward to a future wherein same sex love on screen is being perceived by the audience as normally as they currently perceive a romantic love story between a girl and a boy.

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