Thursday, April 7, 2022

Love (is) Unclassifiable

Yeh Freedom Life (2018) - Sen Yeh Freedom Life Priya Sen's film, Yeh Freedom Life, sketches out two queer love stories in bustling Delhi streets. Parveen is a street bendor who has strings of female lovers and currently in love with a married woman who keeps vascillating, going back and forth from her family to Parveen. Sachi works at a local beauty parlor. She fell in love with a woman who works as a security guard, their stories unfold in Ambedkar Nagar, a densely populated neighborhood in Old Delhi, India. It feels very real and intimate. The film starts with a mass 'baby shower' that Indian Gov. initiatives to 'educate' pregnant women and these officials rhetoric are some of the most sexist I've ever heard. They all culminates to 'if you don't follow these common rules, your husband will leave you" variety. The radio show overheard in driving car shot suggests that women are inferior intellectually is also very demeaning to woman. It's as if making the rudimentary case for intelligence equals emotional intelligence. In a later conversations with the subjects and one of the 'aunties' saying queer love that Sachi has for her lover is 'too strong' to be natural, seems to be based on observation soley based more on emotional level, as if it is a bad thing.

Yeh Freedom Life makes an interesting pair as I saw another Indian (actually Sri Lankan) queer documentary last week at Art of the Real, If From Every Tongue It Drips by Sharlene Bamboat. Unlike ordinary subjects in Sen's film, Bamboat's subjects are well-known Tamil feminist activists, as the director records their intimate daily lives together and touches upon the repressed desires. The two films contrasts and accompany each other in terms of its subjects' class differences and human desires and love. Sen's subjects, in discussing their love, are more direct but quite unconcerned with their sexual identities. It's their uncluttered nonnomative view on love, even in highly heteronomative and extremely patriarchal society that is refreshing and hopeful, especially in the context of India decriminalizing homosexuality in 2018.