Sunday, January 21, 2007

Summer in My Veins: Nishit Saran

On an internet forum, someone had posted links to the late Nishit Saran's film, Summer in My Veins (1999) on YouTube. I had been wanting to watch this since years, but never managed to locate a copy or be near film festivals that screened it. So understandably I was thrilled to find these links.
I had read about Nishit's film soon after moving to Germany-- during the period I was coming to terms with being gay. He was a film-making student in Harvard and had made a documentary about his own coming out as gay to his mother... on camera. His mother was visiting from India to attend his graduation ceremony and an added complexity was that Nishit had had unprotected sex with a HIV-positive guy and was awaiting his test results. The reviews of the film were extremely positive, and the film had won quite a few awards. I was very keen to see this film. I had been thinking about coming out to my friends, was debating whether to ever come out to my parents, and this seemed to be a story that I could relate to (albeit not the HIV risk). I even remember hunting for and getting hold of Nishit's email address and writing an unfinished email to him about this. I never sent it.

Later, I remember I saw a couple of his articles on in its previous incarnation.

It was a shock when I read about his accident and death in 2003. He and his friends were in a car that was hit by a truck at a poorly lit intersection in Delhi. All of them were killed. He was only 26.

(I have never embedded movies on here, so I hope this works...)

Summer in My Veins (partI)

Summer in My Veins (part II)

Summer in My Veins (part III)

(I hope the person who has uploaded these doesn't remove them too soon.)

As a review very nicely puts it,

Summer in My Veins follows Saran’s double struggle, but the real stars are his mother and aunts, a randy, sophisticated trio who must translate their open, life-loving attitude into an embrace for their gay son and nephew. The mother’s reaction scene, particularly, is a subtly riveting "performance" of a kind that can’t be coached.

Google tells me that Nishit's family has started a foundation in his memory that is involved in

supporting young film makers, curating and traveling with Nishit’s films, beginning an annual film festival, and extending counseling vis-à-vis sexuality for parents.

It is really sad that India, and particularly the Indian gay community lost a promising film-maker. One can only imagine how much Nishit could have contributed had be not been snatched away at so early an age.


The Visitor said...

Hi AS,
Thanks for putting up the documentary by Nishit.

A.S. said...

It was certainly my pleasure... as I had mentioned, I had been eagerly waiting to see this film since years!

Shikha said...

Very Poignant.

Mothers are made of amazing stuff. Often their *known* world comes crashing down when they realize their child is different from what they had thought. And finally they grow to accept and even change their beliefs afterwards, just out of unconditional love for their child.

Btw, please take care. The HIV testing part of Nishit was distressing.

Shikha said...

Hmmm. On a second look, that last line sounds funny, and isn't really complete. Let me put it this way:

The HIV testing part of Nishit was distressing; It's a sad reality, which is more common that people would like to admit. Prevention (of HIV and any possibilities) is of the utmost importance since there is no [known] cure, and it could be one of the many other) ways to torture yourself to death. So, please take care... anyone and everyone.

A.S. said...

True, many parents do realize that what they really want is their children should be happy, and they love their children for who they are and not who the parents would want them to be. Unfortunately this is not an universal case. But hopefully things are changing with changing generations and the world becoming a global village.

Yes, absolutely everyone should be aware of the dangers of HIV. The gay population, particularly in the West, is well aware of the risks because almost everyone (gay)in the previous generation lost friends and loved ones to it. Plus there is extensive publicity and education regarding this.
On the other hand, the sexual repression and prudishness in India (and imbecile Health Ministers like Sushma Swaraj of the previous government) prevents dissemination of information and help among even heterosexual populations. In India, as I understand, not only gay, but also straight populations, especially in rural areas, are heavily at risk. The prospects are really scary.

Anonymous said...

Hi AS, Would you write a review of "The Hours" if you find it interesting? I wish I could get my understanding on bisexuality corrected by a person who is really dared to enter into the homosexual world.

The Hours is the one movie that moved homosexuality to a troubling bisexuality - specifically Meryl Streep does an amazing job with the suffocation of the newer generation of homosexuals, with their feelings towards the opposite sex.
Or am I a complete idiot? Could be!

A.S. said...

Madura, The Hours was a fascinating film and had superlative acting. All the important characters indeed had shades of bisexuality. I had seen the film a while ago, and I'm not sure I would be writing a review about it in the near future. I wouldn't agree with your interpretation that Streep's character depicts "the suffocation of the newer generation of homosexuals, with their feelings towards the opposite sex", I rather see it as her frustration and suffocation in dealing with a friend she loves (and whom she had been at one point in love with) who insists on suffocating himself (and in the process continuously challenges her). I don't think that the fact that he is now gay or that she now has a female partner (whom she is also having slight problems) has a lot to do with her feelings. In fact, among the three pivotal female characters, Streep (and hence her "generation") seemed to me to be the most comfortable with her (their) sexuality.

However if I understand correctly, your main interest/intrigue here is bisexuality. I have been planning/writing a detailed article on human sexuality for some time (albeit focussing more on the biological/socio-biological/evolutionary aspects/ideas), and bisexuality would certainly be discussed as well. To quickly address your query, I'd suggest you google Alfred Kinsey's ideas and his scale of (male) sexuality. The Kinsey Scale proposed that sexuality of individuals as falling on continuum-- a scale of 0-6 where 0 would be complete heterosexual, 3 complete bisexual and 6 complete homosexual. I myself would probably be 5 or 5.5. Perhaps you would like to read this old post to see why I strongly support Kinsey's ideas.

Incidentally, I wouldn't describe myself has having "really dared to enter into the homosexual world". I am gay and I am just comfortable with who I am... the world is the same, it's just that some people don't understand that others might not share their tastes.

BTW, it is a pity one can't get to your blog via your profile...

The Visitor said...

Hi AS,

Here are some links for you -
For a rainy day

A.S. said...

Thanks for the links, The Visitor. Half the crowd that visits my blog seems to be directed from yours anyway, and now there are posts about this blog, thanks to you. :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the movie.' been wanting to see it ever since i read about the accident. Never saw it before, because thought, its nishit after all, this is just a starting point for him...being a phenomena that he was, gay rights and film making were only minute aspects to his multifaceted personality.. . and if it has affected so many people..imagine what he would be and what all he would have done if he was breathing today....still cant believe that he is no more...

Anonymous said...


I stumbled upon you blog while searching for ways to come out to parents. I'm an Indian and working on my Ph.D. Your 3 part blog on your coming out was very helpful.I have told a few friends here but not back home. It's scary. I'm right now in US and my mom is planning to visit me for my graduation. If you have a few moments to spare, then would like to get in touch with you directly. My e-mail id is Thank you.