Manasvi Kadian


A dissection of Animal, a movie that is Reddy’s toxic alpha ideology wrapped in daddy issues with an honorary bow of feminism.

If your highly stereotypical ‘Men will be Men’ ads were made into a movie, this would be it. Big gun toys (with a pinch of Aatmanirbhar Bharat), one man killing 500 other men while his friends (aka bhai) sing in the background, socially-approved infidelity that gets justified in the end, and crass humour that crosses all lines of decency in the name of being funny are just the tip of the iceberg with Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s Animal.

After the commentary and critique faced by Kabir Singh—for having too much unnecessary violence, for having a female lead that isn’t so much of a lead, and for that one slap—it seems like Vanga tried really hard to be accepted with his latest release. With its narrative of “a strong, independent woman” who is bold and actually questions the male lead, the movie tried to fulfil the “feminism quota” by adapting itself to the taste of its feminist critics but still (somehow) failed horribly. Maybe having the woman slap her husband rather than vice versa isn’t what feminism is about (aw, what a shock).

While the movie with its storyline had the potential to be impeccably emotional (cue a dysfunctional Sooraj Barjatya film), the mirch-masala of misogyny, subtle Nazi imagery (?), and alpha male toxicity only took away from the father-son dynamic the movie was trying to portray.

While Ranbir Kapoor’s character clearly had certain mental issues and a deep-seated desire for validation from his father (in common parlance, daddy issues), in a country plagued by a highly illiterate and influential population (read: padhe-likhe gawar), a movie like Animal became a spokesperson and an enabler, allowing not for an understanding of the character but rather a glorification of him, walking a precariously thin line as the audience fell in love with a son who just happens to be highly problematic. While the portrayal of such characters onscreen shouldn’t necessarily inspire its audience (watching Dahmer—the Monster didn’t make you want to be a serial killer, did it?), Ranbir Kapoor in Animal was advocated as the perfect green flag who does everything right (gaslighting 101), leaving little to be questioned about the “alpha” he was.

In the Vanga universe, the checklist for being the perfect male comes down to being pretty straightforward—raging anger issues? Check. Can it “turn on” with a snap of a finger? Check. Preaches about the superiority of being a man? Check. For a movie that wildly oscillated between a bloody rape scene and the (not so) boyish charm of snapping bra straps and pulling on one’s wife’s hair, it is as if Vanga had only one (albeit veiled) objective: wanting to present a picture-perfect image of all the problematic parts of the alpha male ideology.

As a woman, the movie felt like taking a walk in a shady area with no streetlights while a group of men catcalls you for three hours at regular intervals (as if the streets of Delhi weren’t enough). Under the guise of obsessive and possessive love, the movie tactically parceled and sold off misogyny and toxicity in bulk amounts. Every joke made, every blatant ignorance of the concept of consent, every misogynistic sprinkle of “love” and “strength” received ample validation from the snickers and the smirks of Ranvijay’s (Ranbir Kapoor’s character) friends, not so much different from the reaction of a majority of this animal-loving audience.

A dissection of the movie makes it clear that Animal are nothing if not driven by pure (poisoned) testosterone. The smartest feat of foreshadowing and direction in the movie? Opening with the definition of animal.

Read Also: Taali Review – An Exceptional Biopic Based on India’s Third Gender

Featured Image Credits: Onmanorama, filmfare

Manasvi Kadian

[email protected]

Providing guidance to the students of DU since 2008 on matters of sex, dating and intimacy, Amma is back again this week with her dose of advice.


Question: I am physically attracted to someone but he is emotionally attached. What to do?

My dearest Kanna,

Isn’t this the ultimate conundrum of life? You fall for people who aren’t even available to fall for you. And no, it isn’t your fault. As they say, “pyaar soch samajh kar nhi kiya jaata… bas ho jata h.” The silver lining to your misery? That it is only physical attraction. Trust amma, you don’t want to find yourself in the raita that is love.

Well, amma also has her teaching moments. You know how they say “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder,” right? Well, that’s true kanna, but if their beauty is the only thing that has you attracted to them, it can’t go further than your regular short-term fling (obviously with a side of emotional baggage that you would be left with).

Imagine this person and take away their sundarta and all that physical beauty that has you attracted to them. What are you left with? Just an emotionally unavailable person, my dearest. Even if you could have them, they can’t give you the love that you deserve. And let me tell you dhono, you deserve so much more love than this world can even hold.

So if you listen to your amma, don’t wait around for them. They are pining over someone else and you deserve to not pine over them. Regardless of what you are looking for—a short winter fling, a one-night stand, or just someone to share a cup of chai with in this dilli ki sardi, this person is probably not going to be that for you anytime soon.

Go on out and download those dating apps, or talk to new people if you want that old romance, but don’t wait around for a story that might not even happen. Put yourself out there, be clear about what you want, communicate, and find someone who wants you in the same way that you want them. And kutty, save yourself from the raita just waiting to be spilled.





Want to ask Amma a query? Mail it to [email protected].

Providing guidance to the students of DU since 2008 on matters of sex, dating and intimacy, Amma is back again this week with her dose of advice.


Question: How to start a conversation with a random girl you like?

My dearest,

“Man is by nature a social animal,” said some great man (pardon my memory with names kanna) but I believe they forgot to package us with an instruction manual on how to actually be social. I see you kids tick-ticking on those phones of yours while you sit in the same rooms and at the same tables. I see you not talking and then crying over how you have no one to talk to. But that isn’t it, is it? Back when I was young, then also these people had no idea how to approach someone. Well, what are you to expect from a generation whose movies tabooed even kissing (oh, those poor violated flowers).

But you young kids of the new generation have it so much better. Things are so much more open and talked about now. So frankly, the only thing I can tell you is that the only way to have a conversation is to just have one. Although kutty, don’t be one of those creeps who just won’t take a no for an answer or leave. When you do approach someone, remember the three Rs: Respect, Realize, and Retreat (if required)— respect their space, their time, and most importantly, their response; realize if the conversation is not going in the direction you wanted it to or if you’re making them uncomfortable; and please, please don’t come off as a hyperactive serial killer but just retreat if they don’t seem okay with the conversation. 

I know these Bollywood movies taught you uski na mein bhi haan hai but trust me when I say that’s not the case. Everyone appreciates a compliment. Everyone appreciates respect. Lead with that. Know your limits and theirs. Don’t do anything amma won’t approve of. I know it takes a lot of guts to talk to your one true love (of the moment) but you don’t want to leave them emotionally scarred for life. 

So live, laugh, love, do whatever you want, but just don’t do it at the expense of others. Remember kanna, life is short but you aren’t going to find the love of your life by being chep.




Want to ask Amma a query? Mail it to [email protected].

Providing guidance to the students of DU since 2008 on matters of sex, dating and intimacy, Amma is back again this week with her dose of advice.


Question: My best friend is getting into a very toxic relationship and somehow she can’t see it. Do I make peace with it or should I go beyond my way to stop her, because it is affecting our friendship?

My dearest idli,

Maturity comes both with age and experience, but in relationships there is no real expertise and you might make new mistakes every time. For starters, give your bestie, a suitable space to have her own opinions. There is no problem between two friends that cannot be solved without talking, so have a serious chit-chat session over chai or hot chocolate. Be open towards hearing her opinion and also try to understand her stance as to why this relationship is so important to her. Instead of focusing on your perspective of the relationship, try to see how she perceives it.

Your Amma would always tell you to let out the feelings. Keeping things bottled up would only make you feel nauseous and uncomfortable. So, try to confront her about your feelings and understand her point of view. I know, it is often difficult to directly express your feelings, but believe me kanna, it’s the best solution to get out of any mess. There is no mess that can’t be cleared with a heartfelt conversation along with good food and coke. Don’t make the same mistake as me of creating an ego wall and acting all cool with a no-fucks-given attitude. Take my word, it only makes things worse.

If even after this serious conversation, she can’t see the “toxic” side, it is for you to understand, my dear macchi, that you can’t take over the decisions of her life. It is ultimately on her to understand the dynamics of her relationship. You can simply be there for her. But being there is very different from being a “nosy” friend. I know, my kutty, that you are worried about her but we can’t impose our opinions on others. I think this is the best thing I have learnt from Gen Z, the concept of giving space, to realise and to learn. So don’t stress yourself out, you won’t lose your friend with your words. Trust the process and trust your friend (even if that means trusting things you don’t approve of).




Want to ask Amma a query? Mail it to [email protected].

Within the dichotomy of growing up in metro cities and of belonging to places far removed from them, exists the colourful void that is your identity. But don’t they say that too many cooks spoil the broth?

All of my life I have struggled with being Haryanvi. Born and brought up in Gurgaon (we will never call it Gurugram), I have seen both sides of the story–the gaon and the galiyaan of Haryana and the elitist metropolitans that exist on the fringes of it. I have always existed in the middle of these two worlds: too elite for the Haryanvi kids but too “rowdy” for the city ones, something which always left me struggling with my identity.


Stepping outside Haryana and moving away from its people, you come across a different (if you ask me, distorted) image of Haryana–its people are rude, its culture is not modern, its the land of Fortuners and doodh, dahi, aur ghee–and even though there are things that might be true, but the demarcation of the culture of a whole state as “barbaric”, for the lack of a better word, is outrageous.


Living in Delhi NCR makes you come face-to-face with a very mutated version of the Haryanvi culture. For most, it becomes a culture that is the voice of political parties and a platform for all your gaalis. It becomes an identity of the “uneducated”. “Haryana walon ke toh munh hi nhi lgna chahiye (You shouldn’t get involved with people from Haryana)” is one version of the many taunts and judgments that have come to be accepted by people over time. Schools ban you from using the language because more than being associated with a culture, it has come to be associated with a select few, who have gone on to create a specific image—one that we are all okay turning a blind eye to—and this is the image that gets carried home. “I usually try staying away from people who say that they are from Haryana. It might be prejudice but I wouldn’t want to take that risk,” said a third-year student, in conversation with DU Beat. 


With a rise in an elitist crowd and an even more elitist NCR culture, Haryana has come to be that one state everyone conveniently forgets. Now, when asked, even Gurgaon is seen as being a part of NCR before it’s a part of Haryana.


But on the flip side, exists another reality, completely opposite. Adoption of the Haryanvi culture, particularly the Haryanvi language and the distinct, heavy accent that comes with it, has become a commonplace phenomenon in the Delhi NCR circuit. When you look around, you see a certain accent being used by the Delhi kids. You see that same accent find its way into the NCR, from Noida to Faridabad. From schools to colleges to drivers on the road, you find the echoes of Haryana, if not its whole culture.


This accent might be very Haryanvi, but that doesn’t necessarily mean those who use it are. Most people speaking the language or imitating the accent are imposters, romanticising the existence of a culture that is shunned by too many. This might be out of love for the culture but it ends up doing more harm than good, simply because it usually turns out to be nothing more than the appropriation of an image of Haryana and its people that is more about chaud and tora. Most people in this crowd end up using Haryana for reasons of the wrong more than of the right, trying to capitalise on this image that the other half has created of Haryana in their heads, a villain of their own making.


Stuck between these two opposing sides—in a tug-of-war of language, culture, state, and identity—sits the real Haryana. No culture is without faults of its own, but the least it can ask of people is to be true to themselves. The doodh, dahi, aur ghee are the base pillars of Haryana in its truest form, but then so are its people. A certain rise of voice here and a different accent there don’t make the culture of Haryana a monster to be feared or a beast to be tamed. To the outsider, each culture may be a specimen, and words of love can be of hatred, but it’s only Haryana that knows the love it hides behind its Bawlibooch and Bawli Tared.


Feature Image: The Tribune


Manasvi Kadian

[email protected]

“I will love you if I never see you again, and I will love you if I see you every Tuesday”- Lemony Snicket.

To all the people in long-distance relationships out there,

I know it hurts. I know it hurts seeing everyone have that special someone to celebrate with, while you, despite having that special someone, are sitting and making plans with your single friends. I know it takes everything in you to not make a “big deal” out of it or to brush things off as a joke because you know that if you don’t, it is going to hit you. It doesn’t really seem fair, does it? When the couples get to go on (physical) dates together and the singles get to swipe and flirt, you are stuck in the middle of these two worlds, belonging to none. You get to have video calls that cut into your sleep schedules and dates that rarely ever happen because of the time difference. You get to wake up when they go to sleep and you get to look at them only through a screen. You get to see your I love you’s turn into I miss you and you get to learn to love them through distance and time and layers of screens in between. You get to not talk about them because they’re so far away and you get to miss talking about them because they’re so far away. You get to end all your conversations with a “come back soon” and you get to get used to missing them (every second of every day).


In a world of hookups and one-night stands, rare relationships and rarer love, it seems too early, too soon to be experiencing this kind of pain. Your friends know you hurt and that this hurts but I don’t think anyone can really know how much. Sometimes it feels physically impossible to hurt this much. It feels as if the hurt will drown you— not letting you come up for air, not giving you the permission to really hurt, not letting you weep your tears. Your days are spent convincing yourself that it’s okay and you’re okay and things are okay and everything’s going to be okay, while that voice inside you keeps holding on to all that sadness and misery that you constantly feel. You don’t allow yourself to feel the pain because it is a pain of your own choosing, a bittersweet one, if you may.  


People around you have expiry dates for their relationships— when school ends, when we graduate from college— as if relationships are nothing but an exercise in convenience. Oh, I wish it was that convenient. I wish it was that easy. “Less than 50% of long-distance relationships actually work out,” they say. They don’t think you already know that? You have searched over and over the same questions, trying to convince yourself more than convincing them. They say it gets easier, that it’s supposed to, and that time makes things better in the end, but it’s been a year and they’re there and you’re here and it still, somehow, makes no sense.


You hold on to the hope that if not this year, then maybe next. You convince yourself that at least you’re under the same sky, and the same moon, and the same sun. You find solace in having someone to love for yourself and you end up finding solace in convincing yourself that “Aur bhi dukh hain zamaane mein mohabbat ke siwa, raahatein aur bhi hain vasl ki raahat ke siwa”.


Feature Image: Bustle


Manasvi Kadian

[email protected]

When you look at all the colleges that are not affiliated with DUSU, you will notice that most of them turn out to be women’s colleges rather than co-ed institutions. Is this because of what the students want, or what the college administration deems “right”, or what society considers a norm?

Delhi University is defined by some key components that make up the whole “DU college experience”— the campus, the food, and the infamous student union elections. But you would be wrong to assume that this is the case in each and every college of Delhi University. As of 2019, a total of only 52 DU colleges and faculties are affiliated with the Delhi University Student Union, lovingly referred to as DUSU.


A large proportion of the colleges not-affiliated with DUSU comprise women’s colleges, leaving barely any women’s colleges to be a part of DUSU. The question arises— does an internal bias really exist amongst the female DU students to not want to be part of the process and the complications of DUSU or is this just a manifestation of a system of historical entrenchment of women, not just in politics but in society as a whole?

The scene that we witness on larger political platforms like in various state assemblies or in the parliament, with men occupying most of the positions of power and women being given only token representation, can be seen trickling down onto the university level as well. Many of the contesting groups have only one female contestant amongst a group largely dominated by male candidates, a clear misrepresentation of the ratio of male to female students in the Delhi University student body.

When DUSU is not included in it (women’s colleges), I think it is taking away a lot of political autonomy…. (when) people opt out of it (DUSU) or when we aren’t kept in the loop, we miss out on a lot of political discussions and a lot of very important decisions that can be taken by us,” says Avantika, a former student from Gargi College.


Rather than addressing the concern of college administrations themselves not wanting their colleges to be a part of DUSU, the primary concern would be to address the question of whether female students themselves want to be a part of these elections.

It is not only about if we WANT to be part of the elections or not, but also that women always have and will have more restrictions— in terms of curfews, family concerns, safety issues, etc. Essentially, the way DU politics functions currently makes it very difficult for women to be part of the same, and that gives everyone an excuse and a justification to just not include women in DUSU in general,” says a 1st-year student from Delhi University.

The kind of freedom that male candidates possess and use has always existed in parallel to women candidates. The early curfews mean that most women candidates end up being unable to dedicate the same amount of time campaigning or organising events as a male candidate and the concern for safety, specifically in a city like Delhi, does not add positively to it. 

While entering into politics, women majorly face harassment, (wrongful) comments, and at times sexual torture. They are threatened and majorly, they are emotionally blackmailed,” says Meenakshi Yadav, a 2nd-year journalism student from LSR, who is also serving as the president of SFI LSR.

All these factors have, in a sense, culminated to form a sort of vicious cycle— women cannot give enough time or resources to the elections due to the systematic exclusion of women from public life, which leads to them being at a disadvantage and ultimately, in most scenarios, to them not being elected. This ends with a bare minimum representation of women in the elected panel and when women aren’t occupying decision-making positions, how do we expect women’s issues to come up and be addressed on public platforms?


But this is definitely not the only or the complete reason behind the non-participation of women’s colleges in DUSU. Most college administrations would rather not have their college be a part of DUSU, with many of them following on this path since the very beginning while others have pulled out from DUSU in recent years. “Yeh college DU politics ka part nhi hai, yahan padhayi acche se hogi” is a phrase most of the students in these non-DUSU colleges—like St. Stephens, Lady Shri Ram College for Women, or Gargi College—have heard at least once in their life, and this is exactly what the college administration exploits as well. Colleges that are not affiliated with DUSU go so far as this non-affiliation usually gets endorsed by the college administration and further appreciated by prospective students and their parents.

Most of the faculty at these colleges believe that the time during and around the DUSU elections is bubbling with hooliganism and leads to a very disruptive atmosphere in the college. Monika Nandi, associate professor at the Indraprastha College, is against taking part in DUSU elections “because of the use of money and muscle power”. But the teachers also do not hold a unanimous opinion over this. On the other hand, Bhupinder Chaudhary, associate professor at the Maharaja Agrasen College, does not feel that the issue of money and muscle power subsides by restricting the college’s or students’ access to DUSU. “All college students are above 18. If at that age they are allowed to elect the country’s government, why should they not be allowed to elect their union? Moreover, he raises a very valid question, that is, if teachers can have their own union, the Delhi University Teacher Association, then why can’t (shouldn’t) the students?

Most of the colleges don’t want to indulge in the disturbances which come from external sources like colleges, media, students, etc. (during elections). They want to keep a peaceful environment by suppressing the opportunities of students. They fear the revolution and violence that they think they will have to face if the students are involved in Politics, ” continues Meenakshi, in conversation with a DU Beat correspondent.

College administration would rather argue that it is for the “benefit” of the female students that the college would rather not affiliate itself with DUSU, citing the same reasons that society has cited to women for centuries now— “It’s for your own safety” or “Acche ghar ki ladkiyan yeh sab nhi krti”, all platitudes to suppress the voice of women in a world standing on the foundation of patriarchal bullies and misogynistic ideals. 

They tell us to lock up our doors, shut tight our windows, dress right, look down, speak low, hide away; because whatever makes it unsafe for us out there, that is not going to go away. 


So yes, women have been told to hide away for decades, and yes, “men will be men” and “we can’t change the society” have been the go-to phrases for centuries of missed opportunities and stolen platforms, but does that mean that in 2022, women belonging to such prestigious institute ons like Delhi university colleges— well-educated and independent-thinking women— should be denied of opportunities as basic as being able to vote? Even though all these colleges might not be a part of DUSU but that does not mean that DUSU does not affect these colleges. None of us exist in a vacuum. Delhi University has always been and will always be highly interdependent, so how does it make sense for the college administration to deny a platform like DUSU to students just because in technicality it is allowed? How does it make sense for us to talk about women’s problems in front of a male-dominated panel, elected by a predominantly male student population, who belong to an electoral college that barely includes any women colleges? How does it make sense to be living in a time when we still need to fight for women’s suffrage?


Read also ‘Who Run The World? Aes(that)ic Girls Do!’ 


Feature Image Credits:


Manasvi Kadian

[email protected]

Know that the exam season has begun when your sleep cycle changes from sleeping from 5 AM to 7 AM to sleeping from 10 PM to 10 AM. Welcome to the cursed woes of sleeping too much….

To all the people who have a (very) messed-up sleep schedule, functioning on 2 hours of sleep every day, know, that with the beginning of the exam season, sleep schedules have a tendency of going off-track in the absolutely opposite direction, blessing you with the menace of too much sleep (if that is even a thing).


And when you haven’t studied anything throughout the semester, relying with your heart and soul (and hopes of passing) on that one-day-before-the-exam studying, “sleep is for the weak” starts making perfect sense.


So here are some ways (tried and tested. Failure rate≠ 100%) to stop yourself from inevitably falling asleep…

(Disclaimer- might leave you feeling like the Grinch).


1.  Cold Showers

As much as this sounds like an innuendo, it’s not. If nothing, school has taught us one thing— everything else might be temporary but “go and splash water on your face” to wake up is permanent. All we are doing is taking it up a notch and asking you to move beyond just the face. It helps…. Even if for just 5 minutes.


2.  Get Caffeine Infused Foods

AKA get coffee-infused toffees. Making coffee is probably (definitely) the better option but when you have achieved unfathomable levels of laziness and have been diagnosed with the couch-potato syndrome, anything is better than nothing.


3. Do Not Sit and Study on your Bed

You. Will. Fail. There is no way to actually get yourself to study when you can feel that soft bed closing in around you. “Ab toh fail hona bhi chalta h, bas sone do” is all you can think about and when a I-am-just-resting-my-eyes-for-5-minutes turns into a full-fledged 4-hour nap, you wake up regretting everything (including your existence).


4. Power Naps are the Biggest Scam

If someone told you that power naps work, hunt them down. A power nap is one of the biggest scams to exist in this universe, only working out for people who have dedication, determination, and a real will to get themselves to study, and clearly, you have none of these.


Give up convincing yourself with all the 1,000 excuses (itne excuses toh mummy ko nahi diye aaj tak) that you can actually complete everything in one night while sleep comes and goes (more comes and less goes). 10 years uthao aur baki sab bhagwan par chhod do.


Manasvi Kadian

[email protected]

Two members of the Executive Council of Delhi University have sent a letter to the Vice-Chancellor urging him to make amendments to the recently-approved UGCF-2022. Read to find out more.

Recently, members of the Executive Council Of Delhi University have written to the Vice-Chancellor, Yogesh Singh, urging him to make amendments to the recently approved Undergraduate Curriculum Framework-2022 (UGCF-2022) which is planned to be implemented from the academic year 2022-23.

The framework, which was formulated by the National Education Policy (NEP) cell, has come to face opposition by a section of teachers. Claiming that this may lead to a dilution of the “academic rigour”, two Executive Council members, Seema Das and Rajpal Singh Pawar, have pointed out the shortcomings of the framework in their letter.

…. Based on New Education Policy (NEP) 2020, the Undergraduate Curriculum Framework (UGCF) 2022 has been haphazardly made by an extra-statutory body, i.e. NEP Cell, leading to the dilution of academic rigour,” the letter read (Source- PTI).

The reduction of the overall required credit from 196 to 176 in four years and 148 to 132 in three years would end up significantly reducing the workload. Thus, the new curriculum would lead to a massive displacement of the teaching staff, especially of the ad hoc teachers, as highlighted by the letter.

As per authentic information, the student-teacher ratio is being doubled in comparison to the present student-teacher ratio across subject/ discipline by the UGC and hence, the University of Delhi… This will drastically reduce workload,” the letter read further (Source- PTI).

The removal of English, as a compulsory language course under BA and BCom and as an option under Ability Enhancement Courses, will also significantly affect the workload of the English department in colleges.

Furthermore, the total weightage of the CBCS/ LOCF core papers has also been reduced from 70-75% to 45-50% under the new framework, reducing workload even further.

Additionally, under DU’s recent directive, no ad hoc or guest teacher can be appointed until every already-employed teacher is taking 16 periods per week. It is believed that this will lead to a situation where the importance of quality research is grossly underestimated and which will ignore the “importance of research done by the faculty members.”

NEP’s Multi Entry-Exit system (MEES) and Academic Bank of Credits (ABC) are also believed to institutionalise “a fluctuating workload and roster” which will hamper “the implementation of the constitutionally obligatory provisions of reservation for SC/ST/OBC/EWS in teaching jobs.”

We request you [the VC] to consider and take into account the above-mentioned facts in the course of implementation of the UGCF and bring the required amendments without any further delay,”  thus, the members have urged in their letter.


Feature Image: University of Delhi official


Manasvi Kadian

[email protected] 

What if your options did not have to be between queer ally or queerphobia? What if your options could rather be between flawed and flawed?

TW: Queerphobia

“It is only a pollution instigated by the West!” or “This goes against Indian sabhyata!” are just some of the things you might have heard when the discussion approaches queerness— in any shape and form; statements, that more often than not, have come to become the defensive pedestal of the right-wing, hetero-patriarchal ideology of modern India. But to what extent can it be considered the gospel truth (minus, of course, all the homophobic sub-text)? 

From vows of celibacy going hand-in-hand with intimate same-sex friendships, to rebirth in different gender forms, or sex change and the existence of gender fluidity— accounts from ancient India might have been somewhat successful in pulling a thin curtain over the Indian queer reality but that doesn’t make India devoid of queer representation. Mahabharata with its story of Shikhandini or Shikandi, King Bhagiratha with his two mothers, the story of Babur and Baburi, or the existence of an Indianized version of Achilles and Patroclus found in the walls of the Jamali Kamali tomb, all points far away from the fact that India’s “sabhyata” might have only existed in gender binaries.

But that doesn’t mean that living in ancient India as a queer person was a bed of roses; It also had its own share of thorns. With extremes like depictions of same-sex intimate interactions being largely confined to Rakshasas (a literal demonisation of queer identities) to Manu smriti listing a range of quixotic punishments for homosexual men and women, the relation between queerness and Indian history isn’t much less of a Pandora’s box— it might seem all bright and rainbow-coloured from outside but the real horrors only come through when the box finally lies open in your hands. 

So, does that mean that all those statements made under the veil of nationalism and rightist ideologies are true? Does it mean that phrases stringed together in hatred and queerphobia are what we need to fall back to?

When the landmark Article 377 verdict was given by the Supreme Court, Rajya Sabha MP Subramaniam Swamy took to telling news channels how “homosexuality is a genetic flaw”. This was the same person who had earlier told the media that “being gay is against Hindutva” and it needs a cure (Source: But couldn’t that easily be just one person’s point of view out of a few hundred? Or is that something only said because the queer community happens to be a huge vote bank nobody wants to lose out on?

It is true that the British came to India and brought something in this regard with them; just that the something wasn’t the reality of queerness but, in contrast, the institutionalisation of queerphobia with the Vatican’s puritanical ideology finding its echo in the anti-sodomy law, something that did not leave India even when the Britishers did.

These two sides of a coin that exist when talks of queer identity travel through the air of India—in whispers or in free cries, in solidarity or in phobia — are as flawed as they are pure. Two rotting but shiny sides,  existing as an anomaly in oxymorons, leave you with only one outcome, however impossible: the coin landing on its edge, the coin landing on neither. 


Feature Image:


Manasvi Kadian

[email protected]