June 30, 2022

#CauseAChatter: 'Cobalt Blue' - a movie on gender identity and some afterthoughts.

The month of June is commemorated as Pride Month, a month that is celebrated world wide, with LGBTQ+ friendly cities sporting rainbow parades and gay marches to ahow their solidarity towards an inclusive environment. 

On a similar sentiment, I got about watching  ‘Cobalt Blue’ on Netflix. Having read the novel a while ago, the onscreen adaptation had piqued my curiosity. 

For the uninitiated, ‘Cobalt blue’ is a movie adapted from the eponymous novel written by Sachin Kundalkar.

The movie is directed by the author himself, and was released on Netflix only in April this year. 

Starring Neelay Mehendale, Prateik Babbar, Anjali Sivaraman, Cobalt blue is a Bildungsroman story about Tanay and his tomboy sister Anuja, falling in love with the same man, their paying guest.

From the very outset, the film deals with the topics of gender identity, infatuation and heart break, ealt with in an utterly sensitive and poignant fashion.

There are instances when the chemistry between Tanay and his love interest remind you of ‘Call me by your name’, another famous book-to-film adaptation on the same topic.  

Interspersed with heart-tugging poetry penned by Tanay, the film offers a window into the minds of the LGBTQ+ community, that often goes ignored in a society like ours.

Prateik has played the role of a philandering artist to the T. Being a vagabond of sorts,  betrayal seems expected. However, the film is more about the aftermath, the response, rather than the heart break. 

Both siblings are fighting an internal battle of their own. However, Tanay’s struggle seems more painful, his grief more intense, since he, unlike Anuja, does not have the same privilege of expressing his feelings, even when in love. 

And that got me pondering on the hypocrisy of the society we live in, how it deems anyone who isn’t like the majority as a deviant. How it is inconsiderate towards the LGBTQ community, treating them as outcasts.

We often mistake  gender to be binary, often ignoring or overlooking those who are gender fluid or gender nonconforming, not realizing what turmoil we may be causing them. All this for no fault of theirs. They who are created by the same God, they who are as much a part of society as us. 

Cis and trans are two sides of the same coin, called human. Then why the bias! 

Honestly speaking, no matter how unbiased I claim to be, some scenes of the movie made me uncomfortable.  When Tanay and exchanged tender kisses, oil massages, and warm hugs,  which made me ask myself if I would be squirming as much if it was a man and woman playing a love scene on screen. Then why was I uncomfortable watching two consenting adult men do the same? 

When I got that mind block out of the way, I could watch the movie for what it was…a love story. 

As compared to the West, India still has a long way to go when it comes to inclusiveness. This bitter fact is brought out beautifully in the scene where a senior professor (played by Rajkumar Rao) breaks down and confesses that being gay feels criminal in this country. 

Truth be told, we may have managed to scrap off section 377 from the IPC, but we still need to scrap it off from our minds. Only then we will be able to hope for an inclusive environment. 

Talking on gender identity should be encouraged and not be treated as taboo.  Public and private establishments, cafes, restaurants, transport, etc should be as welcoming to trans folks as they are to cis individuals.  

“Tum hi batao, tay  kar lo, tum raasta  ho  ya  ho manzil...” 

These lines reflect the trepidation, the insecurity, the inhibition, not just when it comes to love but also about loving in a society that does not make one feel safe and welcome. 

The definition of love changes as the protagonists mature with age and experience, from ‘love is a habit’ to ‘love makes you stronger’. 

The fact that the professor’s advances are declined by Tanay is evident of the fact that gay love is no different from hetero-love and that one cannot share the same chemistry with everyone. 

Another poignant moment in the film that stayed with Mr long after it had passed was when Anuja asks her friend how long a relationship should survive for the world to consider it a ‘good’ relationship’. 

The delicate way in which the two siblings handle the heart break, the maturity that Tanay shows despite loving unconditionally, and the growing up that happens in the process, all send across a clear message...we may not always understand people and their choices, but that does not mean we cannot respect them. 

If a movie can show so much maturity, why can’t we? 


This post is part of Blogchatter’s CauseAChatter.

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