Once in a blue moon, a film comes along that breaks all the rules and conventions of a typical and conventional film standard and emerges as a strong, content-headed film whose main motive is to shed light and hope for the people who have been socially excluded, mistreated, and misjudged by the predefined false ideologies of what a world should be.
Who Said Boys Can’t Wear Makeup? (2018), an English-Manipuri bilingual educational film, directed by Manipuri filmmaker Priyakanta Laishram, is one of those films that came out of nowhere, completely unanticipated, and had a profound impact on viewers with its audacious and risk-taking theme. In a very traditional and conservative nation like India, where boys and men are only expected to be rough and tough, who would have thought a film entirely focused on men’s makeup and gender-neutral fashion would debut?
In addition to being the first Indian film to address the issue of men’s makeup and gender-neutral clothing, the film emphasizes everything that is the underlying cause of all stereotypical ideologies and practices that result in discrimination and exclusion in society. For this reason, the film is beneficial in every way. It goes to great lengths to demonstrate how patriarchy has persisted throughout history and is still a major problem in our day and age by highlighting how unethical and stereotypical ideologies have been passed down through society from generation to generation ever since the dawn of time.
When asked how the film came to be, Priyakanta Laishram responded that it all began with all the bullying and humiliation he had experienced in his school and neighborhood for wearing makeup. He felt that now that he had a platform to do so as a filmmaker, he didn’t want to give it up because he wanted to be the voice for others who wanted to be themselves. He wants them to understand that they are not alone and that it is acceptable to be who they want to be.
For Priyakanta Laishram, the humiliation and shame didn’t end there. In 2018, the film’s teaser and promotional song went viral in Manipur on Facebook and Instagram, and people teased and mocked him for the movie. Following its successful premiere at the St. Regis in Mumbai on April 7, 2018, and in Imphal on May 11, 2018. It was subsequently made available for public viewing on YouTube on October 28, 2018.
Regarding the trolls and negativity, Priyakanta Laishram said that because our society is patriarchal, he was fully prepared to deal with it because he already knew that it would come. He refused to be affected by the criticism and instead felt proud of what he had accomplished, which was something that no other filmmaker could have done so easily.
Beginning on January 29, 2018, the film’s principal photography began. On February 5, 2018, the film’s production was completed. “Mumbai and Bangalore’s Garden City University served as the primary locations. The Garden City University students were very helpful and cooperative, which made the film’s campus shoot go smoothly and amicably”, Priyakanta added.
With Priyakanta Laishram, Inder Bajwa, Bala Hijam, Nimrit Kaur Ahluwalia, Strela Luwang, John Oinam, Peden Ongmu Namgyal, and Rajkumari Linthoisana playing prominent roles, Sachit Gurung and Bryan Marshall did an outstanding job on the film’s cinematography, and Isaac provided an upbeat and energizing background score. Additionally, it is backed by Priyakanta Laishram’s production company, Priyakanta Productions, and he also produced, edited, and wrote it.
There’s no denying that more and more men are embracing a practice that was previously associated with women, even though men wearing makeup isn’t yet a common sight. The countdown seems to be on for beauty to finally become everyone’s business, with the millions of tutorials available on social media and the proliferation of brands offering male makeup. Similar to fashion, beauty is slowly shedding some of its most ingrained ideals and stereotypes. Today, men and women use makeup as a means of self-expression; it is not just a matter of gender or sexuality.