'Just Another Love Story' looks promising but will the heterosexual gaze affect authenticity?
Whenever we think of a love story, we imagine a guy and a girl madly in love with each other, who fight all odds to be together and then stay dedicated thereafter.
The Sunday past, Priyanka Karki, a popular Nepali female actor, broke this stereotypical heterosexual definition of love and released her new web series "Just Another Love Story".
Directed, written, edited, produced and acted by Karki who shares the screen with former Miss Nepal and fellow actor, Shristi Shrestha, the series is a story about friendship and love between two female characters, a rare portrayal on Nepali screen.
Our narratives are always dominated by heterosexual stories and even if a story of a gender minority is told, it is cisgender heterosexual individuals who make it. If a gender minority pens down a story or is directly involved in the filmmaking process, then the story will be more authentic and will represent their actual realities rather than some perceived notion of them.
Similarly, such will create a chance for heterosexual cisgender people to understand the gender minorities much better and to leave their preconceived biases if the minorities are the frontiers in story-telling.
Laura Mulvey, a feminist film theorist in the 1970's, had introduced the male gaze theory. Mulvey argues that most depiction of women in visual arts happens from a heterosexual masculine perspective where women are presented as objects of desire for the pleasure of the male viewers.
Let us hope Karki and her team have refrained from following the male gaze trope -- which is problematic because it objectifies women; especially when the male gaze trope is used in stories where female characters love people of their own sex, they are sexualised and objectified to the next level.
Karki and her team deserve all the acknowledgement for trying to tell a love story between two females. But had a gender minority been directly involved in the filmmaking process, it would have been the icing on the cake, which would have minimised the chances of heterosexual gaze affecting the authenticity of the story.
Arguments may surface that our Nepali filmmaking and the media industry lack gender minorities who have opened up about their preferences publicly. But it is not a herculean task because we have seen Nepalis -- some of whom are from creative fields -- embracing their sexualities and orientations in recent times.
Nevertheless, the first episode has generated the viewers' interest. Let's hope the upcoming episodes will have a progressive portrayal of the characters accompanied by an intriguing storyline.