Kashish Queer Film Festival 2017: Jim Sarbh, Swara Bhaskar attend closing night; RJ Rohini owns the stage

Harish Iyer

May,30 2017 18:05:54 IST

The closing night of the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival had Asif Ali Beg, the celebrated and supremely talented theater actor, playing the perfect drag queen with a performance that left the audience spell bound. And then there was Swara Bhaskar who spoke eloquently about the need to integrate the civil rights movements of all those who are suppressed. Her voice and her choice of words were uninhibited and met with an appropriate response from the audience. Jim Sarbh came in wearing glittering yellow pants that looked like they were flicked from Mithun Chakraborty’s '90s wardrobe. The last time I saw Jim Sarbh at an event, he kissed a guy on his lips as part of an act. He is a straight cookie to the best of our knowledge. But that doesn’t stop the gay world from wishing he wasn’t! The event ended with a performance by Sona Mohapatra who ensured that even a few septuagenarians were soon swaying on their feet to the rhythm.

All was not hunky-dory during the closing ceremony though. Murphy’s Law played out on stage and everything that could go haywire, did. The audio didn’t play. There was commotion on stage. The PowerPoint went haywire and the awardees were announced through the AV even before the announcers opened their envelopes. Basically everything that event managers would consider 'hygiene', went topsy-turvy.

Picture courtesy : QGraphy

Picture courtesy : QGraphy

I was sitting just behind the festival director Sridhar Rangayan and watching the entire team getting tense about the goings-on. But great challenges call for greater pride. The host of the evening, Rohini Ramnathan (or as she is popularly known, Radio Ki Heroini RJ Rohini) stepped up to the occasion. Especially when an award winner’s acceptance video was being played but the audio was not audible. She decided to add her own script to his video. The audience couldn’t stop laughing as she ensured that the situation was salvaged with her wit and impromptu humour. She didn’t need a script. She owned the stage. She used her personal camaraderie with people in the front row to take digs at them.

Again, after a while, filmmaker Onir was on stage to launch the trailer of his new film, Shab. The film had an audio problem and was paused by the operator exactly at a scene when the lead actor (Ashish Bisht) was facing a mirror, clad only in underwear. There were hoots and shouts and Rohini took to the stage to make some pithy comments that eased Bisht's awkwardness. Rohini ensured that everybody in the audience was entertained. all people are entertained. And entertained well, she took the event on her able shoulders and ensured that the night didn’t lose its sheen.

She is an extremely talented host and a friend of the community. She is special — you'd imagine that anyone in a similarly stressful situation would have a million thoughts and emotions running through them. She has seen it all. What’s more challenging than the loss of a loved one? In January 2017, Rohini lost her partner. Anyone who has seen them together would vouch for the bond that they share with each other. I gather that he was a very supportive and encouraging partner and she strives every moment to live up to the image he had of her. She embraced all her love for him and transformed it to some unimaginable resilience, and every bit of it showed in her presence of mind (at the Kashish closing ceremony) and empathy for the cause. We tend to underestimate actors and radio jockeys and other performers who entertain us. They hide their personal selves behind the laughter and jibes and the friendly vibes. Some take a break. Some break records instead. Rohini brought immense pride to herself and her partner, who is always with her, through life, and after it. If there was an Oscar for anchoring — it should park itself on Rohini’s shelf, for Kashish and more.

Updated Date: May 30, 2017 18:05 PM