Queer short film ‘Bodies of Desire’ delves into themes of intimacy, identity

“The film delves into themes of identity, desire, discovery, sensuality and intimacy,” says Varsha Panikar about Bodies of Desire, which is based on her poetry series of the same name.

The spoken word, queer short film, directed by Varsha and Saad Nawab, was released last month and has been nominated and shortlisted at festivals, including the Berlin Commercial.

Stating that the film has a universal story, Varsha says, “We have shown different sexualities and the diversity of people that exist in cities. It comes from my own experiences: these are the kind of people I know, this is the kind of love I understand and have seen. I hope when people watch the film, they are able to see it from that lens, free of bias and prejudice, and not just see it as a queer film.

“Having said that, in the current socio-political climate, it is a queer film made by queer persons,” she adds.

Of the nine persons in the film, only two are professional actors. “They are from different walks of life; there is a copywriter, designer, activist, and a drag artiste. We wanted diversity because we wanted to use the film as a medium to showcase queer lives. So, we were looking for people from the community,” says Varsha, who has also provided the voiceover for the film.

Adds Saad, “We were aiming for a kind of authenticity that comes with people who have not faced the camera before. It’s less about sex, and more about the idea of intimacy. That’s what we were trying to aim at. So, there were certain barriers that we wanted them to be comfortable with but also come together in a certain way.”

The directors had an intimacy coach offering guidance on set, an uncommon practice in India. Says Varsha, “You need to create spaces that are safe, especially when shooting something like intimacy. You need to discuss the boundaries of consent and what the actors are comfortable with.”

The film also touches on the subject of female pleasure. As Varsha states, “There is a still a lot of shame associated with sexuality and desire.” She adds, “These are basic human emotions. I don’t think people need to shy away from it anymore. We’re in 2020; it’s high time we moved on.”

Bodies of Desire can be streamed on YouTube.

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Printable version | Jul 24, 2021 2:36:14 AM |

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