Oneness is a new film by openly gay director Priyakanta Laishram that is about to hit the festival circuit. It’s based on the 2013 honor killing of a gay teenager in northeastern India. At the time, the death was deemed as a suicide and a case was never opened.
Laishram decided to make the film after connecting with one of the victim’s family members, who explained that her brother had belonged to a tribal group and was in a relationship with a Meitei boy before a hotel raid exposed the relationship.
“While he had support from his mother and sister, his father and older brother were very religious,” the 24-year-old filmmaker explains in a recent interview.
The teenager was forced to go through conversion therapy, which included being “re-baptized” and subjected to exorcisms and being submerged in water.
Oneness is the first LGBTQ-themed Manipuri film, but Laishram hopes it won’t be the last.
“While growing up in Manipur, we didn’t have any movies based on same-sex relationships,” he says. “Not just in Manipur, I can literally count on my fingers the number of [LGBTQ+ themed films] that have been made so far in our country.”