Family Matters: Mr. & Mr. Iyer

In Mr. & Mr. Iyer, based on a story by Lavanya Mohan, a son tells his orthodox Tamil family that he’s going to get married, and they go through four phases of processing the news. That’s about two minutes per phase given that Charukesh Sekar’s short film in English and Tamil is about eight minutes long. (I don’t know Tamil but felt like I could follow along for the most part with the English and with help from the blog post linked above.) Naturally, his family is excited about his decision.

But, there comes the trouble. He has a surprise in store for them. What is the surprise? Will the family accept it? Will they break rules to make their son happy? Will conventional practices and beliefs allow him to get married to another man? Man? (Thamarai)

Via Uncubed. Fans of Goodness Gracious Me may remember a clip from that show that ends on a similar note, with parents seemingly most concerned about a gay child finding a partner of the same background.

16 thoughts on “Family Matters: Mr. & Mr. Iyer

  1. This seems like Indians doing what white people did 30 years ago in Europe and N. America.

    • “This seems like Indians doing what white people did 30 years ago in Europe and N. America.”

      North America is 20 years ahead of Europe (well Europe is diverse too–Scandinavia is different) on many social issues but in general I agree with you. As for original, watching the new cinema from India, what I come away with is that it is new in India but not anywhere else. The cleverness come in adapting old stuff to India. It’s very interesting how it is done and a commentary on India and Indianess.

  2. This seems like Indians doing what white people did 30 years ago in Europe and N. America.

    gay marriage is still a contested issue in much of europe and n. america. even if legal many parents would be uncomfortable or at a loss. i have a friend whose parents are very liberal, and both their children are gay and married, and they admit some reflexive ill ease at having to change their expectations.

  3. Yeah, about 50% or so of Americans still oppose gay marriage, and a significant percent are homophobic. Even tolerant, liberal individuals often oppose gay marriage for several reasons (a common reason I hear is they should have government granted civil unions and that marriage is religious in origin blahblah – not sure I understand the reasoning but it’s a common argument). So it’s definitely not something that was resolved 30 years ago in Europe or N.America…except for many some Scandinavian nations (Iceland?) where gay marriage doesn’t seem to be as big of an issue. Here in America, it’s still a widely debated topic.

  4. this is hilarious! “vadamaa-vaa vaathimaa-vaa?” “cheedai nanaarkku. enge vaanginel?” “Grand Sweets-aa irukkum” LOL “there won’t be any thali” “maybe he can use a golden poonal?”

  5. This India play isn’t legalizing gay marriage–what the whites did 30 years ago was start “mainstreaming” gay issues into the culture–as by this play.

    • On YouTube, the credits listed are:

      Short Film Genre : Comedy, Drama Direction : Charukesh Sekar Story : Lavanya Mohan Cinematography : Kugan S.Palani Editing : Prasanna G.K Music : Vishal Chandrashekhar Production Designer : Ravikumar

      I think Mohan should be credited in the film too, but I didn’t see her name there.

  6. I have seen a few Desi gay couples in America. (Haven’t been to India in 32 years so I don’t know what the situation is like in India. ).

    I also saw in my husband’s family (typical orthodox Kannadigas) a male cousin who is going seriously with an American male. They come to the family functions and the cousins / hard core Uncles/sari clad Aunties are all cool with the couple and actually enjoy their company. I don’t know if they have long term plans to settle together. But that brings up another issue of INTERRACIAL homosexuality. Personally, I believe in live and let live. Diversity is good, etc. (My neighbors who are good friends are a lesbian couple with a couple of kids. Just wanted to say that. I realize that is off topic completely.)

    I don’t believe there are any statements or rules or whatever against homosexuality in the Vedas, Vedic literature, Vedic texts and Hindu literature. Or even in Buddhism and Jainism for that matter. Were Indians were influenced by the Christian British and Islamic invaders to have a bias towards homosexuals? Was the bias already there?

    So in theory, Hindus shouldn’t have bias against homosexuals, but that might vary from region to region in the US and India. (Leave Dharun Ravi out of this…)

    If there are any Vedic scholars out there , enlighten us about homosexuality/bisexuality in scripture. The Bible has verses against homosexuals and Islamic countries feel it is blasphemous or something. I don’t know why some Indians, especially Hindus, have a gay bias. ( I know that having lust in general, heterosexual or not, is generally frowned upon in Hinduism from reading the literature, plus other things like divorce & abortion is forbidden. Or killing or harming any creature is also taboo.)

    This Mr.and Mr. Iyer is interesting and raises interesting questions. Hopefully it will encourage dialogue about people with alternative lifestyles in India and Indian society.

    • “I don’t believe there are any statements or rules or whatever against homosexuality in the Vedas, Vedic literature, Vedic texts and Hindu literature. “

      Not a Vedic scholar or anything even close but vedic ceremonies need to be presided over by a married couple (male + female). (This is unlike Christianity where females are actually absent –something along those lines, I don’t have it exactly right.) From Manu, the grhasta ashram is a social obligation unless you declare brahmachari/sanyas.

      I believe there are explicit rules against homosexuality also but I don’t know if there is any punishment that goes along with being gay.

    • I remember in ’86, there was this case of two women in Allahabad (in the Indian army? can’t find any links to it online) who were married by a Hindu priest and there was a huge furor in the newspapers. I was then just beginning to read newspapers regularly and never understood what the uproar was about. I remember asking my mom about it, and she gave me a pat “well, it’s not natural” answer and asked me to think of how many people I knew who were women and married to each other. Well played, mom LOL.

      “vedic ceremonies need to be presided over by a married couple (male + female)” I doubt if there is a “male + female” requirement, just that the generally accepted understanding of the term married couple includes a man and a woman. Which is not to say it’s the only one. Also, at least from what I’ve seen in S. India, it’s not unusual for widowed dads to preside over marriage ceremonies or celebrate Sadabhishekams/Sashtipoorthis; you’d rarely see a widowed mom being given the same honors (things are slowly changing though).

      Scriptural basis for anything makes me quite queasy. If you think about the gods in Hinduism or the ancient heroes/heroines, you might have an Ardhanari, but I personally haven’t heard of gay gods or characters. Scripture is probably a great reflection of the biases of the time it was written. On the other hand, the better aspects of scripture give people a chance to gloat about how enlightened their religion is compared to others.

  7. When I mentioned the uncles, aunties, cousins, Kannadaga kiddos, etc etc enjoying the gay Desi/American (a white man) couple’s company, I don’t mean that anyone makes fun of them or treats them any differently. The couple blend in with everyone at the get togethers..

    I just wanted to clarify that ambiguous statement.

    I hope Mr. and Mr. Iyer will make some Indians think and learn acceptance. Or was it more for comedic purposes?

  8. The Tamil was difficult to follow; I think I lost a bit of the punch lines.

  9. loved the “are you bringing some shanian into the family?” very typical. the play indeed attempts to normalize same sex relationship and has done it well. quite believable.

    as for vedic, i agree the objection to same sex marriage would be based on lust. same sex couples however can be grahastas, adopt children, and lead a good hindu life. or they can be irreligious and do whatever they please. they can attend temples if they wish. whatever it’s drawbacks hinduism excels in absorbing all kinds of human existence with equanimity and provides all kinds of work around for tricky situations.