My character in Pinecone will be different from previous Queer portrayals: Vidur Sethi

- June 5, 2023
| By : Rohan Chauhan |

The actor’s film, Pinecone, will be showcased at South Asia’s largest Queer film festival that will feature 110 films from 41 countries. it will deal with multiple layers of Queer people

GETTING SET: Vidur Sethi while preparing for a scene

The first film to be premiered at the Kashish Film Festival, an international Queer film festival that will run from June 7 to 11 in Mumbai, is Onir’s Pinecone. Onir, who is also a part of the queer community and has made a name for himself as a filmmaker, highlights the struggles, fears, and triumphs of gay artists in the film. 

The festival’s theme this year is “Be Fluid, Be You”. It represents current generation’s conviction in owning their behaviours, ideas, and sexuality via films, art, and poetry. 

Aside from the films, the festival will also feature panel discussions and interactive question and answer sessions with filmmakers, as well as dance and music per for mances by LGBTQ+ community members and supporters on the opening and closing nights. 

The movie, Pinecone, has grabbed eyeballs since its announcement. It can be a powerful advocate for true love within the LGBTQ+ community, and one which breaks the barriers of coming out stories and pleading for acceptance. It also moves a step ahead and celebrates the love story of two successful individuals. 

Especially at a time when there’s an ongoing scuffle for marriage equality, stories like this should be celebrated. Another factor that distinguishes this film is that, for the first time, a homosexual role will be played by a homosexual actor. 

Vidur Sethi, a Delhi-based actor and performer, is the project’s protagonist who intends to see the real facets of LGBTQ+ people on the camera.
Patriot interviewed Vidur Sethi to know about the film, his journey and his choices. 

Q: What’s your character like in the film? 

Ans: I play Sid Mehra, a successful filmmaker and artist. The film follows his journey over three decades, with three major events in the background: India’s first pride parade in 1999, the repeal of Section 377 in 2009, and the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 2019. However, Sid’s tale of how he deals with love, relationships, emotions and career is a journey that runs at the forefront of the film. 

Q: How was the experience of your first film? 

Ans: It has been a life-changing experience. I’ve been an interdisciplinary artist and had worked in theatre before but screen acting was altogether a different ballgame. Initially, I took a bit of time to understand the overall thematics of the project and our director’s help came in a lot handy. He helped understand the tone of my character. 

I also made a lot of mistakes as well but kept on learning from it to improve my skills. I was working with other new actors as well. So, there was a lot to learn and share. Overall, it was fun. 

Q: Your favourite queer character in movies so far? Ans: I don’t have a particular favourite performance, but there are a few that have had a big impact on me. One of them is Manoj Bajpayee’s in Aligarh. His performance about the struggles of a gay man in our nation was really beautiful and something I really loved. In addition to that, there’s also My Brother Nikhil because it discussed HIV at a crucial time and helped shape the narratives, especially at a time when awareness of AIDS was low and Margarita With A Straw did something uncommon by integrating a narrative of LGBTQ+ individuals with disabilities. 

Q: Being a queer person yourself, how is your portrayal of a gay man going to be different from the previous queer portrayals in Bollywood? 

Ans: My portrayal, I feel, is going to be different from previous characters because I am not only portraying the picturesque, beautiful gay men. There are many layers to a queer man, that I feel haven’t been portrayed till now. I haven’t shied away from reflecting the weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and nuances that are very difficult for a straight person to express. 

INTIMACY: Official poster from Kashish Film Festival

I have lived those experiences and have a first-hand understanding of how we were once viewed as criminals and how that would affect any gay person, how our identity can occasionally force us to disassociate from our friends and family, how a homosexual person will respond to a conflict in their personal life, and how a homosexual person handles societal norms or problems they encounter on a daily basis. I’m hoping that all of these experiences are reflected in the way I act, which is seen on the screen.

Q: Considering the ongoing debate over same-sex marriages and your film being a gay love story, what impact do you think the film will have on the audience. Can it help in changing the perception towards the community?

Ans: Art has a microscopic impact on people directly and indirectly. It impacts overall aspects, be it societal or political. I’m hoping that it has a positive impact. Pinecone is not centred only around coming out. It would allow the audience to see queer people as normal people and part of our society, and understand that queerness that we now embody is the celebration of owning up their identity and taking pride in it. 

In Pinecone, we have tried to show love as love with all its highs and lows, the joy, the sorrows, tragedy and intimacy and other complications. Along with it, it is an attempt to make the audience see queer people in a different light. 

That way, we are trying to take a minute step in trying to change the perception towards the community. It will take time but it’s a step in the right direction. 

Q: What are your views on the recent Supreme Court hearing over same-sex marriage? 

Ans: The plea for same-sex marriage is a step forward for sure. It further allows access to so many structural prospects like life insurance, adoption, joint bank accounts, and also a step towards social acceptance. 

PEEP-IN: The first poster of the film

I myself yearn for a family and the rights that come along with having a family. But there’s still a lot of work to be done. With the discussion beginning now and lawyers and policymakers from the community stepping up for our betterment, it’s a step in the right direction, and things are only going to get better. It will take a lot of time, but it’s a step towards equality for minorities. 

Q: What kind of projects are you planning to work on in the future? Are you worried that starting your career as a queer character will get you stereotyped? Ans: I want to share poignant stories in many genres. The goal is to tell stories that have an influence on both my life and the lives of the audience, which distinguishes my work. 

I don’t believe that involvement in my first movie will lead to stereotypes about me, and even if it does, I enjoy challenges. Additionally, it is up to us performers to accept all types of comments and criticism while maintaining our self-confidence.