Why I Made a Film on Inter-Caste Love Between Queer Wome

The Netflix short film directed by Neeraj Ghaywan walks us through the sensitive convergence of queerness, casteism, and love.

May 5, 2023 - 01:16
May 5, 2023 - 16:45
Why I Made a Film on Inter-Caste Love Between Queer Wome


Being gay is a daily act of defiance in a place like India. The persistent sense of being "the other" might become much more pronounced if one also identifies as a religious or caste minority.

The Netflix anthology Ajeeb Dastaans (Strange Stories), which was released in May 2021, included Geeli Pucchi (Wet Kiss), which was directed and written by Neeraj Ghaywan. Ghaywan made his directorial and writing debut with Masaan (Fly Away Solo), which was screened in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival in 2015. Geeli Pucchi examines the dynamics of a lower-caste person falling in love with an upper-caste person in a manner similar to Masaan.

At the factory where they both work, Bharti, a Dalit worker, falls in love with Priya, a wealthy Brahmin data operator. When Bharti tells Priya she is an outcast, she learns that Priya is fundamentally casteist and would rather maintain her caste privilege than acknowledge her queerness.

When Ghaywan was working on Masaan, "the idea of Geeli Pucchi came to me," he told VICE. "I was trying to develop a character who has to deal with the nihilism of life and is dissatisfied with everything else around her," the author said.

Ghaywan developed this persona throughout time using the perspectives of caste and gender. Geeli Pucchi, according to him, was initially intended to be depressing. It was influenced by the angst of the stories in the films of Finnish screenwriter Aki Kaurismäki, such as the 1996 movie Drifting Clouds, in which a couple loses their jobs but is too proud to ask for assistance from the social welfare system.