A new Netflix drama about gay love in India had to be shot entirely in secret to avoid the country’s censorship.
‘Loev’ was considered highly controversial since homosexuality is still a crime punishable by life imprisonment according to Indian law.
The film is a story about two friends, Wall Street businessman Jai (Shiv Pandit) and Mumbai music producer Sahil (Dhruv Ganesh), a road trip and the unexpected love that arose between them. Shot over a period of just 16 days, the film was completed in secret to avoid censorship due to the extreme LGBT laws in the country.
Director Sudhanshu Saria has previously said: “Loev is not a political film. It is a simple love story about an unusual love. But the act of making this film was a political one because of where this film was made.”
The cast worked secretly to avoid Indian censorship sparked by the decision of the Supreme Court in 2013 which criminalises all sexual activities deemed “against the order of nature” including homosexuality.
“Three years ago, India’s highest court passed Amendment 377 into law declaring homosexuality punishable by life imprisonment and making criminals out of millions of its citizens,” Saria said.
“By extension, the court made it very easy for any cinematic work endorsing or depicting this love to be censored, obstructed and banned. It was in this environment that I wrote the script and it was in this India that our actors, technicians, investors and supporters came together to make this film, working in absolute secrecy and, in many cases, free of cost.”
Netflix has acquired worldwide rights for the Indian LGBT romance, available on streaming on the platform now.
“I didn’t think it would be possible to cast or finance a film like this,” Saria said.
“To find ourselves on the cusp of a worldwide release is truly spectacular. It speaks to Netflix’s taste and the way in which they empower filmmakers to speak out against oppressive societies and arcane censorship systems like the one we have in India.”
The film that marks Saria’s debut as a director was presented for the first time at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, Estonia in 2015.
Loev was well received by the critics and won the award for Best Feature at the Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival in 2016.
Watch the trailer below: