Bollywood actor Arjun Mathur has opened up about the attention he gets from gay men on Instagram.
The 37-year-old straight actor plays the openly gay lead in hit new Amazon series Made in Heaven. The show is about two wedding planners in Delhi, who run an agency together.
‘Nobody ever came up to me and asked if I’m gay,’ he said, according to the Hindustan Times. ‘So, in real life, it’s understood that I’m an actor.’
He then added: ‘But on Instagram, people want to know if I’m gay. After Made in Heaven, I have been receiving messages of all kinds from downright dirty to appreciative to “marry me”.’
Reaction on playing gay
This isn’t the first time Mathur has played a character. He’s actually played gay roles in Onir’s film I Am (2011) and Mira Nair’s short film Migration (2007).
On the reception of playing his gay character to family, friends and audiences, he said: ‘I thought there would be some people in my family for sure who would cringe a bit watching me do this. But it’s been so surprising the way [the gay character] has cut across generations.
‘There’s not one person I know who hasn’t been able to digest the love shown between two men on the screen. Everybody accepted it as a pure form of love,’ he said.
One mother-of-two even messaged him on Instagram to say she always felt a little uncomfortable around gay men, but the show helped her see past that.
Mathur said: ‘The show totally changed her outlook. And now even if both her kids grow up to be gay, she’s going to love them and be proud of them.
‘So the depth at which [my portrayal of a gay character] has penetrated and touched people is amazing. To be able to touch people like this is very special,’ he said.
Last year, India officially decriminalized gay sex.
India’s Supreme Court ruled on 5 September to abolish the colonial-era, Section 377 of the Penal Code. India has a population of 1.3 billion and and estimated LGBTI population of 78 million making this the biggest decriminalization verdict in history.
Judges ruling on the high profile LGBTI rights case said Section 377 was unconstitutional. They also said it violated the right to privacy.