Nepal’s first queer centric film, Blue Flower had its Indian premiere at Kashish Film Festival this year and the film will shock you with how a homosexual man is punished in a homophobic society.
Blue Flower or ‘Nilo Phool’ in Nepali is a true story set almost two decades ago in Kathmandu. Tilak is married against his will to a woman even though his family is very well aware of the fact that he's gay. But they look at it more as a disease to be ‘cured’ or something that’ll go away once he is married. Tilak, as expected, is extremely unhappy in his marriage and that of course concerns his wife too. He’d rather sleep on the floor than next to her on the bed. He carries the burden of not only not being able to marry someone he truly loves but also for not being able to give his wife the typical family life she dreamt of when she married him. They are from an orthodox small town where everyone knows everybody’s business and somehow Tilak’s wife not being able to conceive is the whole village’s problem. She can’t even do her daily chores without having to listen to a taunt or two from either her extremely mean mother-in-law or some passerby aunties from the neighbourhood. But she still never throws her husband under the bus and tells the truth about why they can’t have a child. Their love was different, they were more like a team who wanted to find a way for both of them to be happy.
One day, while washing clothes along with other women from her area near the riverside, a few people from an organisation called ‘Sabhya Samaj’ meet them. Director, Sunil Babu Pant plays one of the characters from the organisation. The main motive of the social service group is to spread awareness about the abuse faced by the members of the LGBTQIA+ community and also report to them in case they know someone from the community being harmed. The team also offered work to people from the community who are otherwise expelled from their village or workplaces. Tilak’s wife felt like this was the perfect opportunity for them to get away from everyone and finally live a life of their own. And soon enough Tilak starts working for the organisation. Their goal is to basically make people from the LGBTQIA+ community aware of safe sex and in order to do that, they educate them about STDs and also distribute condoms.
In the process of working there, he meets a police constable and the two fall in love. Tilak was happier than ever, he had finally found someone who he could be himself with. They made a little world of theirs away from their families, away from all the judgment and shame. But back home, Tilak’s wife was still being harassed for not producing a child. He could not leave her alone with them, given that she is the one who has always fought for his happiness. Because of the insane pressure from back home, the two come to resort to an unconventional and extremely questionable conclusion which feels forced on her part.
The main message of Blue Flower is through the film’s main character Tilak and that’s because the movie is partially based on the life of director, Sunil Babu Pant who has faced something similar in his life. The film truthfully portrays the injustice queer people have to face in Nepal simply due to lack of awareness about the community. To be honest, acting and filmmaking wise, it’s not the best movie out there, but it stands out as it's the first film in its country about the community that's made waves all over and actually made people in Nepal more accepting towards the community. For most actors in this film, including the director, this was their first acting or filmmaking experience ever as most of them either have normal working jobs. Sunil Babu Pant himself is an LGBTQIA+ activist turned filmmaker. In the film the protagonist doesn’t really stand up and fight for his rights with the villagers and his family, he chooses to stay silent and find a middle ground but hopefully the movie can be motivation to many to fight for their self respect so they don’t have to resort to decisions that would haunt them forever.
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