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[ SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2006 12:45:47 AM]
They’re already calling it the Gay Oscars. As many as three of the films nominated this year have characters of alternate sexuality at their centre; Transamerica, Capote and, above all, Brokeback Mountain, Ang Lee’s film of the tragic love story of two ranch hands. Whether it wins or not, Brokeback Mountain has made history with its frank treatment of gay theme in a mainstream film and its good reception by both critics and audiences. So given how Bollywood feeds off American films, the question inevitably gets asked: could it be replicated?

To ask that is to ignore a small fact: it already did. Last year saw the release of My Brother Nikhil, a film that discreetly, but firmly placed a gay relationship at its centre and was not an art-house special. It may have been targeted at metros, but was still commercially made and released and with a six week run in Mumbai and Kolkata, 3-4 weeks elsewhere and now commercial release abroad, it’s done better than most mid-range Bollywood films.

Nor were it’s actors unknowns: one well-known star, Juhi Chawla, one rising star, Sanjay Suri, and other roles by acclaimed actors like Lilette Dubey and Victor Banerjee, or celebrities like VJ Purab Kohli or models Shayan Munshi, Gautam Kapoor and Dipannita Sharma. And it won almost unanimous praise from critics.
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