Sridhar Rangayan (Mandya, India, 1962) is an Indian director, producer and activist who has been focussing on issues linked to human rights and sexual diversity for over two decades. Rangayan has created a cinematography that opens doors and lends a voice to stories that have been officially censored and removed from both Indian cinema screens and society.
In 2001, he founded Solaris Pictures, along with the writer and artistic director Saagar Gupta, creating the first Indian production company specialising in LGBTI+ films and through which he also organises India’s first queer film festival: KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival. Over the past 10 years, the festival has managed to make itself a global benchmark. The production company thus serves as a powerful, transformational tool, through which Sridhar manages to link his militant, activist commitment with audio-visual production and culture.
A determination that has made Sridhar’s filmography essential to understanding the evolution of Indian film with an LGBTI+ theme, including the following noteworthy titles:
Gulabi Aaina / The Pink Mirror (2003), considered the first film to directly portray the trans reality in India and which received critical applause for its ‘sensitive and moving portrayal of the marginalised community’, in spite of the fact that it could not be released in his country because it was considered ‘vulgar and offensive’.
Yours Emotionally (2006) addresses issues such as racism and cultural identity. This feature film became a milestone for visibility as, for the first time, more than one hundred people from different LGBTI+ groups played a part in its production, such as Humsafar Trust in Mumbai and Lakshya in Gujarat.
He also made 68 pages (2007) about the stigma and discrimination faced by people living with HIV and the documentaries Purple Skies (2014) and Breaking Free (2015), which tackle institutionalised LGBT phobia, amongst other issues.
He released his most recent work, Evening Shadows, in 2018: a universal story and, as Sridhar himself says, ‘a family film’. This latest work not only narrates a gay story, it also reflects the reality of Indian women in a heavily patriarchal society. Screened at more than 40 international festivals, it was successfully released in Indian cinemas and widely welcomed by audiences.
Indian society is slowly changing the way it views LGBTI+ people and, in the same way, laws are moving towards real equality in equal rights. In 2014, The Supreme Court of India accepted the legality of the third gender and it recently ruled article 377 of the criminal code illegal, de facto legalising homosexual relations.
We, at Zinegoak, believe that Sridhar’s tireless work, his leadership and his activist commitment, along with that of thousands of people in his country, have been key to this progress and we trust that these social and legal changes will serve as support for Sridhar to continue his work of dissemination and creation of works that are beautiful and moving but, above all, are necessary.