I don’t know if Milk was released in Bangalore, but if it wasn’t then that’s a shame because it is a terrific movie. Milk is about Harvey Milk, the first openly-gay politician in California, but it is also, in a larger sense, about the gay rights movement in the US. (IMDB has a nice review of the movie.)

Milk won two Oscars for best actor and best screenplay, both deservedly so. Sean Penn is superb as Harvey Milk and the script never misses a beat, telling the story without sounding preachy and yet delivering a powerful message. (Interesting tidbit: The acceptance speech of the screenwriter, Dustin Lance Black, was censored in parts of Asia during the “live” Oscar telecast.)

Gus Van Sant, the director, deserves a lot of credit as well There are scenes of men kissing and some suggested sexual encounters which will have made many people in India (and possibly elsewhere) uncomfortable. But, everything’s handled well and without a fuss, so props to Van Sant.

The issue of gay rights is especially relevant in India because our laws are slightly behind the times. (Add heavy dose of sarcasm here.) When you watch a movie like Milk, you wonder about people with alternate sexuality (LGBT) and about the kinds of problems that they face.

Put yourself in their shoes if you will. Firstly, it’s a question of accepting who you are because everyone else seems different. Then, there’s the issue of dealing with your family and friends, and in the larger sense, with society. Mix in the laws we have and think about the kind of problems you’d have to face. This is precisely why I feel that more people should watch Milk, even if it makes some people uncomfortable. It is a movie that will provoke debate and that debate will eventually (hopefully) lead to something good for the LGBT community in India.

As it is, this is one minority community that our media and our society doesn’t seem to want to acknowledge. And that’s sad.


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