India’s First Gay Film, Badnam Basti, Turns Up In Berlin
After 49 years of obscurity, Badnam Basti, considered to be India’s first film depicting a homosexual relationship has emerged in an archive in Berlin. The film was live-streamed by The Block Museum of Art in Illinois with help from the Arsenal Institute for Film and Video Art in Berlin.
Simran Bhalla, a Ph.D. candidate in screen cultures at Northwestern University said that she and a Michael Metzger were on their way to curate a program of Indian films focusing on the idea of modernity of India when they came across Badnam Basti.
“We were looking to feature a film by Raj Kapoor when we discovered a listing of Badnam Basti in the archive of the Arsenal Institute for Film and Video Art,” she said, according to Firstpost.
Badnam Basti tells the story of bus driver Sarnam Singh from Mainpuri in Uttar Pradesh and his battle against the love for a woman, Bansari, and a man, Shivraj.
The film was set to be shown in March at the museum along with Mrinal Sen’s Interview, Ritwik Ghatak’s The Runaway, and Guru Dutt’s Pyaasa but after the event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the curators showcased it over Vimeo.
The digital copy of the film can be leased from Arsenal in order to be shown online, or in film festivals.
(Header credits: Firstpost)