Operation Flood

Here’s an SMS I’ve received a few times in the last couple of days:

Help Operation Flood! This Friday Oscar nominated gay film Milk is releasing (with NO cuts) in Mumbai & Pune. Only if it does OK here will it get national release. Please pack theatres with friends & family to help Milk send a strong signal for tolerance and gay rights. Please forward this to friends.

I was planning to watch the film anyway this weekend, and I hope it does get a national release. But I wonder why the author of the message chose to call Milk a “gay film.” I would have thought there should be no such thing as a “gay film”, just as there’s nothing called a “straight film” or a “left-hander’s film” (if a film stars left-handers). I loved Brokeback Mountain because it was such a beautifully told love story, and the fact that its protagonists were gay is just detail. Equally, I enjoyed My Brother Nikhil, which, to its credit, unlike most other Indian films, showed its gay characters and their relationships as something utterly normal, requiring no explanation. I don’t think either of these films deserved to be slotted into a “gay film” pigeonhole, as if they are about gay people alone, and there is something there that the rest of us don’t get. If Milk is a well-made film, which by all accounts it is, I’m sure I’ll feel enough empathy with Harvey Milk, and enjoy the movie—I don’t need to be gay for that.

Anyway, when I saw the first of these SMSs, I thought of starting another chain SMS that began with the words, “Help Operation Barber.” But I’m too old for such frivolity now, so there it goes…