An interview with Onir (He/Him), Filmmaker, Editor, Screenwriter, Producer, and Gay person.
You are open about your sexuality. Have you faced any trauma over the years because of it?
Honestly, I have not been through any kind of trauma at all and this is something that I have been asked many times, be it about coming out or my family and childhood. I have had a great childhood in Bhutan. I have not faced any stories of trauma or faced any challenges in terms of acceptance.
Have your partners accepted your openness about your sexuality?
I am someone who believes in polyamory in life. I do want to be in love but not just with one person. My relationships have been like any other relationship. Some relationships have been so beautiful. They have sometimes worked out, both long-term and short-term and I’m still friends with some people even after breaking up.
As far as the challenges that I have faced go, it mainly concerns the fact that I am open about my identity and other people are not comfortable being open. I don’t plan it out and I don’t judge people but if it reaches a point where it hurts a third person or me, I decide to step back.
Would you say that your family has accepted you for who you are?
YES. Of all the three children, they like living with me the most. I don’t actively talk about it but they know that I am polyamorous and if my mother finds a guy cute, she even tells him to stay over! (Laughs)
Among the various movies that you have directed over the years, ‘My Brother…Nikhil’ and ‘I Am’ are extremely close to your heart. Why is that?
I had always dreamt about being a filmmaker. ‘My Brother…Nikhil’ is the film that made my dream a reality. For me, it was a huge step. It is close to my heart because it is about identity. Although this movie is based on the life of Dominic d’Souza, it also portrays my way of looking at sexuality. Just as my sister supported me as a gay person without any stigma, Anamika in this movie loves her brother unconditionally.
Just before the movie ‘, I Am’, I had a huge step-back. That was when I posted on Facebook saying that I have an idea but needed support. Over 400 people from 45 different cities across the world made this film happen, both financially and by volunteering. It is the first movie to be crowd-funded and crowd-sourced through social networking sites. There was a woman who could not provide us with money but she cooked for the entire crew and that was just beautiful.
I love this movie because it validated me as a filmmaker. The audience themselves stood up for me. It was baffling that a movie of 1.5 crores could touch hearts and win the National Award for Best Hindi Film and Best Lyrics. It created a ripple and it will always stay close to my heart.
You told me that you never went through any trauma. However, all your movies are unconventional and promote activism. Why is that?
I grew up in Bhutan. My father was arrested for activism in Bangladesh. We have always been a liberal family that supports minorities. We have always been bound by what is right and wrong. This has always had an impact on my movies as well.
Filmmaking has always been a journey to me and not a job. I do not believe in telling the problems that exist in society just for the sake of it. I want to ensure that the right messages reach the people and that the message that reaches the people creates a positive impact.
Tell us about your upcoming film ‘We Are’.
‘We Are’ is a sequel to the movie ‘I Am’. However, this movie will have a hopeful ending. After the decriminalization of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, the world has not changed overnight. But there are changes. I believe the LGBTQIA+ community deserves a celebration. And this movie will be a celebration.
This was beautiful. Is there anything you’d like to say to the community?
I have always felt that being minorities is also about speaking up and voicing out your opinions. Many minorities are suppressed by the patriarchal majority and lose their voice over time. The world is not just about us.