Ved is a teenager in the slums of Mumbai, an area that in the aftermath of the infamous 2012 Delhi gang rape has only just begun to confront the rampant toxic masculinity that has led to the entirety of India to recognized globally for its high rates of sexual assault and seeming inability to do anything about it.
There are those who are trying including Harish, a man in his 50's who has dedicated his life to abolishing toxic masculinity and who is finally existing in a country that may finally be ready to catch up to his own relentless dedication.
Directed by Inka Achte, Boys Who Like Girls is about young men like Ved, young men who've grown up in the world of toxic masculinity who are discovering, many for the first time, that there may be a different way to live and it may be possible for boys who like girls to thrive. Ved is an engaging young man, a teenager who doesn't identify with the abusive, controlling nature of his father and who, incredibly secretly, also possesses a deep fondness for dancing.
As you might expect, that's a fondness that's not exactly welcome in a culture where male stereotypes are largely lived out on a daily basis and dancing is, well, not exactly for men.
Boys Who Like Girls carries with it a beautiful balance of traditional documentary with intelligent, insightful coming-of-age story, Ved's simple insights and learnings practically revelatory and his enthusiasm for them witnessed through a lens of wide-eyed innocence and complete and utter awe.
Achte began filming Boys Who Like Girls in 2014, two years after the young physical therapy intern was brutally raped on a bus in an attack that eventually led to her death and a near universal shaming of India that, after much national soul searching, appears to be heading toward the nation finally confronting a long-standing issue in a culture where women and girls had long been viewed as second class citizens.
It would be foolish to believe that things have changed overnight. It doesn't work like that. However, for years people like Harish have worked on the sidelines with little support of their noble, life-changing work and now they finally have the support of a society and a government that wants to see change occur. Having had its world premiere at the Sheffield Doc/Fest, Boys Who Like Girls continues on its indie fest journey including this week's stop in Indy during the 2019 Heartland International Film Festival where it screens on October 11th at 7:40pm at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12 and on October 19th at 1:10pm at AMC Castleton Square 14.