When a stand up comic gives an interview, half of what he says is not to be taken seriously. Still, I think there is a point to ponder when Suresh Menon says to HT Cafe:
"I call him (Sajid Khan) everyday. In fact, there was a time when our friendship almost traumatised my wife... it nearly destroyed our marriage. Thankfully, better sense prevailed and my wife realised I was not what she thought."
Ah. A few short years ago, no one would have thought. Hanging around with guy friends was a perfectly normal, 'guy thing' to do. I mean guys even walked hand in hand without any embarassment.
But things have changed. And it's all thanks to Bollywood. Every other month we have a film in which perfectly 'normal' men turns out to be gay. No wonder the wives are.. worried.
It started with Page 3. Then came Honeymoon Travels where not one but two leading chracters are discovered to be gay. And the recent Life in a Metro... Poor Konkona, we hope she isn't third time unlucky!
A friend wondered out loud whether there really are that many gays - closet and otherwise - in India. He ticked off his friends and acquaintance list and said, "Well, I don't seem to know any. Maybe one... but I am not sure."
But the fact that you and I don't have gay friends - or friends who've admitted to being gay - doesn't mean anything, I countered. There is a whole world out there we know little of.
That's what I felt when I first read 'Shantaram' two years ago. I grew up just 2 kms away from the bylanes of Colaba where Shantaram and co strutted their stuff. And I inhabited a different universe. Antiseptic, middle class, falling asleep to Vividh Bharti radio.
And there, not far away, a world full of sex, drugs, cloak and dagger. Rock and roll, swing and swagger.
The few times you stood for a bus near Regal, late at night, you'd catch a glimpse of this world. But we never knew the intimate details...
And then there was 'Maximum City'. Again, a book which took you into the sleazy underbelly of the city. The underworld, the bar dancers, the transvestites. The people who exist in the same spaces as us but remain invisible in the light of day.
So it is with the gay community. Partly because no major public figure has so far had the guts to come out and declare, "I am gay." And neither has the media decided to go no-holds-barred on this one.
There are plenty of rumours of course. As Vir Sanghvi wrote in a recent column in Mint:
We are at the stage that Hollywood was in the 1950s and the 1960s, when the gay actors (Rock Hudson, Tyrone Power, etc.) all pretended to be straight for public consumption even though the film community knew them as queens. And famous gay directors (George Cukor, John Schlesinger, etc.) rarely talked about their homosexuality.
And speaking of rumours, here's a major wink-wink-nudge-nudge from Sanghvi...
Years ago, just after Abdul Kalam had become President,I interviewed Shobhaa De on TV. She argued that Bollywood was going more and more gay, pointed to that famous Filmfare awards function where Shah Rukh Khan and Saif Ali Khan did a gay routine to promote Kal Ho Naa Ho, and argued that homosexuality in India extended to public life and went all the way to the top (not difficult to guess who she meant).
Weirdly enough, all the conversation is about gay men. So I guess we women can talk to our girl friends everyday, twice a day. Go partying, shopping, and even out of town together. Without the men in our life getting all flustered.
That is, until Karan Johar decides to make a love quadrangle where Rani and Preity ditch their beaus at the mandap to elope with each other. But worry not... methinks that may take a few more years!