Rainbow Rishta, an unscripted docuseries that celebrates queer love in India, was showcased at the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival yesterday ahead of its Amazon Prime Video premiere on 7 November. Produced by Vice Studios and directed by Jaydeep Sarkar, the six-part docuseries tells inspiring stories about queer love from across the country. It follows the real lives of LGBTQIA+ individuals—including Trineta Haldar, Aishwarya Ayushmaan, Daniella Mendonca, Aneez Saikia, Sanam Choudhary, Soham Sengupta, Suresh Ramdas and Sadam Hanjabam—and explores their aspirations and desires.
Mumbai comedian Navin Norohna—the brains behind Queer Rated Comedy, India’s only “all queer comedy lineup”—was part of the writing team on Rainbow Rishta, as well as the Konkani translator. The comedian, whose 2023 release The Good Child was India’s first queer comedy special, says that working on the series was an exciting challenge.
“It was a major learning process, considering this was the first project I’ve done at this scale,” Noronha told DeadAnt. “It was very enthralling to put this together. People assume that documentaries don’t need writers but that’s the farthest thing from the truth. The writers have to put down the structure and build a narrative. Making a documentary requires us to be one with the cast essentially and that’s where me and my co-writers Monisha [Thyagarajan] and Sneha Nair came in.”
Noronha was part of a small team working on the project since its inception, along with three others including Jaydeep Sarkar. There was a rigorous seven-month-long casting process, followed by a year of production. “I was touring with my special and then suddenly I was travelling for the [series],” he said. “We covered places like Bengaluru, Hampi, Ranchi, Imphal, Guwahati, Delhi, Mumbai and Bhayander, which is my hometown.”
“One of my favourite memories during this entire process was shooting at a pandal in Ranchi,” he added. “I had never been to a pandal before because being in the middle of so many people is pretty daunting to me. But because we were part of the crew, we had a car escorting us from one pandal to the other and it was a very new and fun experience for me.”
For Noronha, it was important to dig into the nitty-gritty details of the queer experience, and avoid the titillation that is common in the entertainment industry’s depiction of queer individuals. “Usually, while depicting queer people, the industry boils it down to sex,” he said. “But this is the first time people will see what it’s like for us to go on dates, marry someone you love on the queer spectrum, and see the parents’ positive involvement in these stories. Usually, Indian parents say, ‘Inko beemari ho gayi hai. Yeh gande bacche hain.’ You can see such comments below the poster on Instagram as well. But you need a show like this to show that love is so pure, true and real. Love is just love and that’s what the show is trying to say.”
Rainbow Rishta premieres on Amazon Prime Video on 7 November.
Feature Image Courtesy: Prime Video India