Interactive documentary takes a look at South Asian culture – The Hofstra Chronicle
A teacher from Hofstra sheds light on the difficulties encountered in leaving a South Asian family. // Photo courtesy of Darian Kukral.
Dr. Aashish Kumar, Professor of Television and Immersive Media at Hofstra University, presented a dynamic way of storytelling through queer South Asian culture during the discussion “Allies and Storytelling in the Queer Diaspora “at the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication on Wednesday, November 9. 17.
Kumar showcased his inspiration for creating the interactive documentary ‘Body, Home and World’ by explaining his discovery of Vijay and Parag Mehta, a father and son who spoke about their experience as LGBTQ + in South Asian culture. This family became one of the subjects of Kumar’s documentary.
The three stages of “Body, Home and World” represent the “body” as the stage of self-awareness, the “home” as the expression of individuality within the family and the “world” as the home. celebration of identity within the community.
Throughout the episodes of the documentary, Parag reflected on the first steps to be honest with himself about his sexuality, while coming out to his family. Kumar wanted to use Parag’s experience to express the importance and difficulty of dating a South Asian family and being accepted into the community.
“My commitment to creating something that could become a document for the South Asian community grew stronger,” Kumar said. “There was a complete lack of LGBTQ + representation of South Asian descent.”
Parag’s experience as a queer inspired other members of his community to do the same.
“We never talk about sexual and gender diversity,” Kumar said. “People raise these questions as a way to unravel the fact that, in an attempt to present this idea of a modern minority, many of these identities have been played down or erased.”
Michelle Rabinovich, first year linguistics student, highlighted the importance of the law on equal marriages mentioned in the presentation. The Marriage Equality Act is a New York State law of 2011 that legalized same-sex marriage.
“Parag just wanted to be happy in their marriage and be able to marry a person of the same sex,” she said. “He finally had his Romeo and Juliet moment, even though it was a Romeo and Romeo moment.”
Ally Montana, a junior arts education student, also expressed her love for her creative ways of disseminating information through art.
“[Kumar] was standing up for a group he’s not even a part of sexually, ”Montana said. “And I think it’s inspiring because he cared a lot about something that doesn’t really have to affect him.”
Not only does Kumar try to communicate the Metah experience, but he tells the stories of many other unique experiences through Body, Home and World.
“Stories allow us to put ourselves in another’s shoes and with that we turn into our own experiences,” Kumar said.