ASHOK VISH | » A Very Queer Friendship A Very Queer Friendship – ASHOK VISH


A Very Queer Friendship, 2022 – ongoing
Docu-fiction film, 15mins
In Development

In Collaboration with Sandeep TK

Ashok Vish and Sandeep TK were unlikely candidates for friendship. At the time of their first meeting, they shared the same lover. For one of them, the lover had just become an ex; and for the other, a new boyfriend. Because of the nature of their work, their lives soon became inextricably intertwined. Eventually the shared lover became an ex for both Ashok and Sandeep, and in the wake of this development, their friendship grew. The relationship they felt with one another developed out of the community among which they found themselves as queer individuals living away from home, rooting their existence in a “chosen family.” It also grew from their shared desire for the same man, a link marked at times in bitter jealousy, and at other times, by empathy and commiseration. Eventually, from their shared experiences, a relationship over shared interests in other men and gay cruising emerged, and so the two became both friends and artistic collaborators.

This work, an autobiographical docu-fiction film, documents their developing friendship. In spring of 2022 Ashok and Sandeep traveled to the Chamayavilakku Festival at the Kottamkulangara temple in Kollam, Kerala. They thought it would be interesting to examine their turbulent relationship using both written and spoken texts played over visuals of the two of them dressing as women and entering the festival grounds with the objective of attracting the attention and desire of other men attending the event. According to legend, the first puja of the temple was held by a group of cowherds wearing the clothes of women, leading to the extraordinary ritual to this day where only men dressed as women are allowed into the temple with the chamayavilakku (lighted lamp) to invoke the goddess. In recent years, members of the LGBTQ+ community (primarily gay, bisexual and the trans community) have begun to frequent this festival in droves for two reasons: to offer their blessings to the goddess, and to cruise, combining the sacred and the secular in a hedonistic way, that allows queer people to occupy a public space that has been transformed from religious site to a carnival-esque environment for queer love and lust.

Our journey, our story, becomes the pursuit of our desires. The same desires that had once come between us has now brought us together, as friends, as artistic collaborators, and as kin.