Livinghigh: With Gay Abandon
Monday, January 03, 2005
Livinghigh was here at 8:07 PM /

With Gay Abandon

Of the two notable things I did yesterday, both pertain to the homosexual world. The first happened because of the second, strangely enough. I visited the Inorbit Mall in Malad (a trip to that part of Bombay after ages and ages - my brother, who drove us there, calls it an 'out of Bombay trip', bless his sweet snooty soul!) to try for tickets of Alexander at Fame, and instead we walked into the Crossword store.

So I buy this book by Alan Hollinghurst, titled The Line of Beauty, which won the 2004 Mann-Booker Prize. And it's beautiful. It seriously is. It reads like a line out of my mind, and flirts with the things that every one of us deal with, cope with, or at any rate try to do so - I identified with the hero's life to such a frightening extent, I empathised with him, and I laughed with him. I like the writer. At the cost of sounding exceedingly egoistic (damnit, what have I to fear? - everyone who knows me knows I'm egoistic!), the author's style reminded me so much of my own. I have a novel of my own tucked away in a corner of the world, and it is freaky how close, how sinfully close, it is to The Line of Beauty.

I wish I could meet Alan Hollinghurst and shake his hand.

And now, I look back, and realise that I haven't really explained my reference to homosexuality - Hollinghurst's hero is a 21-year old gay scholar in Margaret Thatcher's England, and it spans the decade between 1983-1993, a potentially explosive story of private and public homosexuality. For the bigots among you, if there are any, don't knock it till you try it - the book is simply amazing.

The second thing, of course, is Alexander. The movie is breath-taking, purely for the size and scale of it. Colin Farrel's dye job is quite bad, I agree with the review, but he does show some strength in some scenes. The movie is not all bad, and comes through at times as a feat of tremendous effort. For that, I am inclined to forgive Oliver Stone, even though he snipped off the character of Porus and replaced him with some buck-toothed Persian princess, and killed off Alexander in battle, when everyone knows the bugger died of malaria or some-such-thing.

(But yes, the dying scene has a great battle with leaping elephants and horses, Matrix style!)

And of course, Stone makes Alexander gay. Forget bisexuality. There is a hint of a wife, true, but she remains only a hint, though she mouths some lines of dialogue here and there through clenched teeth. So there is Alexander's boyhood lover who becomes his manhood lover, and there is his Persian harem-boy who looks like Enrique Iglesias in a wig, and there is a skinny Indian boy with whom he has tantric sex. All in technicolour. Amazing, really, if a bit upsetting to my brother, who wanted to see some women onscreen, for a change. (Neither the buck-teethed Persian princess, nor the hint of a wife measured up to his snooty standards!)

But he was denied. Stone had his way. Alexander remained gay. The Greek lawyers decided the movie did not merit a lawsuit. I wonder who had the last laugh? Perhaps, me...


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