chapter  14
Queer Pleasures for Queer People: Film, Television, and Queer Sexuality in India
Pages 15

In the feature film Hera Pheri (The Con Job, 2000), Raju (Akshay Kumar), an underpaid worker in a small laundry, dreams of a lavish and exotic lifestyle. The dream, articulated through a song, shows him driving expensive cars, cavorting with women, and visiting exotic locales. In chis transnational landscape he spots a row of bikini-clad women lying on the beach and sunning their backs. An excited Raju leaps into the air, lands next to them, and propositions them through song. As the women respond by turning their faces toward him, they turn out to be bikini-dad men in blond wigs! A surprised and amused Raju jumps into the sea, and beckons them to follow. As he runs on, the men also jump into the sea and chase him. This brief but determined queer disruption is emblematic of queer emergence in the transnationalized mediascape of popular culture in the last decade. I

Popular Cinema and Same-Sex love Popular films enjoy an iconic status among gay and lesbian subcultures in India even though explicit references to homosexualiry have been largely absent from mainstream commercial films. 2 A spectator's engagement with any cultural text is complex and is negotiated variously through a multiplicity of identities. lt has often been suggested that queer people have a special relationship with cinema. Queer film scholarship on Hollywood cinema has pointed out that a particular stance or gesture of certain actresses like Marlene Dietrich or cross-dressing by Greta Garbo often has greater resonance for queerly predisposed viewers than do explicit gay or lesbian characters. In an overwhelmingly heterosexual popular culture, reading "against the grain" becomes a significant impetative.3