Gandalf at Kashish Queer Film Fest: Sir Ian McKellen to be special guest at opening
In a coup to rival all coups, the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, which kicks off in the city on 25 May, will be inaugurated by none other than Sir Ian McKellen.
"On my first visit to Mumbai, I am very pleased to attend the opening night of the Kashish 2016 Festival," said McKellen in a statement released to the press. "For too many years, gay characters appeared in films only as comic relief, as often as not meeting a sticky end, as if that’s all they deserved. Increasingly, in India too, the film industry has matured, treating gay people with the same seriousness as straight characters. I look forward at Kashish to discovering more about Bollywood’s film-makers who reject fantasy for the truth about gay people."
Festival director Sridhar Rangayan said that it seemed apt that the festival gets to welcome an internationally acclaimed actor who is also a strong voice for equal rights. "Sir Ian McKellen is an institution by himself, he is a big inspiration for the LGBTQ community throughout the world — through his films, through his theatre work and through his very own life. We are absolutely honoured that he will inaugurate our seventh edition on 25 May at the iconic Liberty Cinema. He is not only one of the most respected actors, but he has been a exemplary champion of LGBT rights for several decades. We are grateful to British Council and BFI for enabling this," said Rangayan.
McKellen — popular as Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings franchise and as Magneto in the X-Men films — is visiting India as part of 'Shakespeare Lives on Film', on the occasion of the Bard's 400th death anniversary. The visit is organised by British Council and the GREAT Britain Campaign.
The Kashish Film Festival is considered the largest event of its kind in South Asia. The theme this year is "seven shades of love". It will be held from 25-29 May at three venues in Mumbai (Liberty cinema, Alliance de Francaise and Max Mueller Bhavan). Over 182 films from 53 countries will be screened at the festival.
McKellen will be the chief guest at the opening ceremony of the festival.