Interview: Jaydeep Sarkar speaks on why he made Rainbow Rishta

In a freewheeling chat with Indulge, Sarkar speaks on the docuseries, queer representation in Bollywood and more.
Jaydeep Sarkar
Jaydeep Sarkar

Rainbow Rishta, the unscripted docuseries directed by Jaydeep Sarkar, has won our hearts with the warm stories and the ray of hope that it sparked in our lives. In a freewheeling chat with Indulge, Sarkar speaks on the docuseries, queer representation in Bollywood and more. Excerpts:

Tell us something about Rainbow Rishta. What made you make this series?

Growing up, I had never seen stories of confident and triumphant queer folks. Of late, there has been representation of queer characters in some shows, mainstream and otherwise, but only a few have been able to go beyond the lens of seeing queer characters as victims or villains. And even though the representation increases, what it does is, perpetuate some very dangerous stereotypes that make it harder for the community. And I find that in many cases it is a very irresponsible representation.

I wanted to present what queer life actually is for me and the characters, and I do not speak on behalf of all queer people. I speak on behalf of myself as a queer person and every time I have been dealt with a challenge with my gender and identity over the last few years, I have learnt to do that with joy. And I find joy has a great power to disarm somebody who’s antagonistic to you. It makes them wonder why this person is so confident. If this person is so confident can i still continue to be petty! I wanted to make a show that reassured somebody in a closet, somebody who’s struggling with their gender identity and their sexuality, to see confident people, confident characters in the show and realise that maybe coming out is going to be the liberation that it eventually ends up being. I came out at 33. I wish I had a show like Rainbow Rishta when I was younger. Then I wouldn’t have to wait all these years inside a deep, dark closet to finally start living my authentic life. 

What's your take on queer representation in Bollywood?

I find that there have been only a few films and shows that have got queer representation right and authentic. One of the earlier films that I had seen was Sudhanshu Saria’s Loev which I really liked and it went into the details of desire. Badhaai Do was a very beautiful film and it got the soul and it understood queer loneliness. But these apart there have been representation in mainstream Hindi shows and movies which I feel have been very detrimental. So, while there is representation, there are also perpetuating stereotypes of queer life, like a trans person murdering, a comic trope, or the trope of a victim. I have never seen queer joy. And I feel the representation in Bollywood is stuck in the same rut, which is very superficial. I feel the writing of queer characters is appalling, lazy and eventually very very detrimental to the queer community. So it is not a representation that many of us celebrate. 

With all these queer talks, movies and shows, how inclusive have the entertainment industries become? What's the ground reality?

The ground reality is actually very sad. Many people are very scared to come out of the closet, because of the effects of patriarchy and the prevalence of biases that exist around us. Yes, I would say that you visibly see more queer colleagues, and have interacted with some really talented people, but many of them try to keep their identity under wraps. I have never ever come across someone in the industry who is a trans person, in a role that is behind the camera. We need queer people to tell their stories more and more, yet that is unfortunately not happening.

What are your upcoming works in the pipeline?

Currently, I am working on a feature film which is a comedy and a show which should be going on the floors very soon.

Rainbow Rishta is currently streaming on Prime Video.

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