In a scene in Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain, Heath Ledger’s Ennis tells his partner Jack how he, as a boy, had witnessed the lynching of a queer couple. “My dad, he made sure me and my brother saw it. For all I know, he did it,” says Ennis.
Writer Suparn Varma and additional screenplay writer Ritu Bhatia have recreated a similar horrific scene in His Storyy.
A bunch of goons beat up a man because he is gay. It is followed by a cop describing what a hate crime is, while asking leading man Kunal (Satyadeep Mishra) about the nature of his relationship with the patient. Hard to describe that two men are romantically involved without attracting judgment. Harder even because the Centre opposes same-sex marriage as “it doesn’t echo the Indian family unit concept”. So, it cannot be said enough that this is an important series. The fact that it is largely well done is a plus.
The series traces the story of Sakshi (Priyamani) and Kunal (Mishra), whose seemingly perfect marriage is a mirage.
Kunal is in a long-standing relationship with Preet (Mrinal Dutt), and after an ill-fated instance of public display of affection, their clandestine affair is exposed. Varma’s screenplay is devoid of judgment, exploring the complexities of relationships. Though they are equal partners and great parents, Kunal doesn’t find his soulmate in his wife of two decades, instead finding it in a man who helps him discover himself. The writers give us some great moments of the couple grappling with the enormity of the situation. It helps that they have such fine actors – Mishra and Priyamani, who are in top form, sometimes even anchoring overly dramatic scenes with great gumption. Priyamani beautifully brings on-screen her anguish, grittily holding her own in tough scenes. Mishra delivers a nuanced, heartfelt performance that makes you empathise. I wish the writing was as kind to Dutt’s Preet, who despite earnestness, fails to make him memorable. We never know his and Kunal’s love story and that makes us a lot less invested in their love. It doesn’t help that the series’ last scene looks like a hurried cliffhanger inserted for effect.
The writing and Prashant Bhagia’s direction bring forth several other important discussions.
From depicting how misogyny is bred in young minds to commenting on the high school bullying culture and homophobia, the series checks many important boxes, though its take is sometimes simplistic. I never quite understand why parents who rightly diagnose their teenage son as a bully, bigot and body shamer, never encourage him for therapy. That said, the story achieves too much to fault it for its glitches. I hope Season 2 ties the loose ends left unknotted this time. There is a reason everyone should get a chance to catch this one, especially Suchitra Krishnamoorthi, who recently tweeted, “If one went by the current Indian content on OTTs, it seems like the whole country has turned gay and lesbian (sic.)” It’s never too late to get schooled, after all.