‘Lingering Wine’ is slated to be released on February 12, two days ahead of Valentine’s Day. The song is part of the album ‘Queerism’, the first LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, queer, intersexual, asexual)-themed album to be released in India by an Indian queer artist. It’s set in the backdrop of picturesque Fort Kochi, Kerala, and features actor Kani Kusruti and Pragya as a lesbian couple. Co-written and directed by Deepa Vasudevan, queer activist and founder of Kerala-based NGO for sexual minorities Sahayatrika, the album has a crew comprising mostly women and trans people.
The nine-track album’s lyrics, in English and Hindi-English, talk about the struggles of queer people, celebrate decriminalisation of Section 377 and address issues such as millennial feminism, social justice, global warming and suicide prevention. Pointing out that LGBTQIA persons face continuous struggles, Pragya explains, “There are struggles of coming out, being accepted and the inner struggle of wondering how people will react. Once you come out, you might lose a lot of people, sometimes you get a lot of support and sometimes you get a lot of hatred. There is the pressure of family and friends. There is struggle when you have a relationship with someone, the struggles of living together, finding a place, facing uncomfortable questions and a lot more”. Pragya is a trained Hindustani vocalist and percussionist.
“The song that talks about suicide prevention is close to my heart. I have lost one of the most important people in my life. It is very painful, and this song is dedicated to that person. I really think that people should start talking about these issues very seriously. I’m really glad I’m trying to start talking about these pivotal subjects through my music,” says Pragya.
The second song of the album will be released on Women’s Day and is about women empowerment. “We wanted to talk about subjects that rarely get featured in mainstream music. Because pop music and culture have so much potential to reach people, we wanted to occupy that space and talk about the issues and experiences important to us. We did not just write about queer issues; there is a song about the Kerala floods and global warming, and some songs about social justice and equality,” says Deepa.
Terming the first single as a love song, Pragya said that the video was made in a retro style featuring two women deeply in love. “I feel that this song is my first step towards changing the mindset of society. I don’t say that it will completely revamp it, but it will definitely create ripples. And people will start feeling more free and confident about their non-stereotypical relationships,” says Pragya.
Expressing happiness about the recent Bollywood film ‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga,’ which deals with samesex love, Pragya says more TV shows and movies should go beyond the stereotypical portrayal of LGBTQIA characters.
“Our album is not meant to be an all encompassing representation of lesbian or queer experience. It is an artistic expression rooted in someone’s personal experiences and beliefs. There is struggle, a fighting spirit and also a lot of celebration and joy,” said Deepa. The album’s crew include producer DJ Lolly, makeup artist and stylist Ananya and Pranna and DOP Neethu Shaji.