On this day in 2004, the Malayalam
film The Journey (സഞ്ചാരം/Sancharram) was first released in the United States. The Journey was the first film about
lesbian identity to come out of India since the 1996’s Fire.
Written and directed by Ligy J.
Pullappally, the film follows the story of two girls falling in love in the
South Indian state of Kerala. Kiran and Delilah come from a Hindu family and a
Catholic family, respectively, but their friendship has managed to last them
from childhood into teenage-hood despite the stigma of their rural hometown. When
a boy named Rajan realizes he has a crush on Delilah, he asks Kiran to help him
write love letters to her. In the process of writing sweet nothings to her
closest friend, Kiran discovers that she too has a crush on Delilah.
Although The Journey is often compared to Fire, Pullappally has spoken
at length about how important it was for her to depict lesbians living in rural
India rather than in the urban centers and how the lack of resources and
isolation that comes along with rural living can impact LGBT youth. Upon its
release across the American festival circuit, The Journey was awarded several awards and even the Chicago Award for best film. It continues to be praised and replayed today in 2017 for its subtle handling of adolescent sexuality and lesbian identity
within Keralan culture.