By Timothy Rawles
(Note: This is a continuation of a story published on 1/20/21 https://echomag.com/the-filmkoko-uses-marriage-equality-to-justify-marriage-to-a-dog/)
Although a small film, Koko become big news around St. Petersburg Florida’s film community when it premiered at the Sunshine City Film Festival this month. The movie depicts a non-sexual love affair between a man and his dog. The director, Anjani Pandey, said he drew inspiration from the marriage equality law back in 2015.
The controversy stems from Pandey’s own belief that marriage should only be between a man and a woman, and when same-sex marriage was legal it opened the country up to other unions such as human and beast, or human and any other object.
It recently came to light that some people who worked on the film had no idea that Pandey was making a subtextual parody of gay marriage. At least he didn’t portray it that way on set. So they were surprised when a recent interview surfaced on The Movie Blog where he admitted his beliefs, saying now that it’s legal, one day in the future, “someone can ask [to make it] legal to marry his/her dog, too, which is totally unnatural and unacceptable by anyone including me. We can’t even imagine that kind of society we will be living in.”
And yet Pandey still defends his movie and asserts that it is not about gay marriage. We recently talked to him about it and since we haven’t seen Koko, we’ll let you decide where his motivations lie by way of his own words. (Note: we have edited some of the text of the written interview for grammatical and contextual clarification but have not compromised the integrity of the filmmaker’s responses).
Echo: Are you against the legalization of same-sex marriage? Why?
Anjani Pandey: NO. I AM NOT AGAINST IT. I believe every citizen in this country has freedom of speech, freedom of belief, and freedom of leading their life in the way they want. I may have different views/opinions/beliefs on certain laws. I may have conflict on political and religious views than others BUT I DON’T HATE PEOPLE OR HOLD AGAINST ANYONE. Neither (do) I expect from others to agree with me.
I am not (a) social activist who want(s) to change the world neither any spiritual/political leader or expect the whole world should see the same way I see.
Further on a personal note, I consider myself a man of God and I believe in Jesus & (the) Bible and I also believe marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman but that is just me. I don’t force or even expect anyone to believe the same.
Your film’s logline implies that same-sex marriage is equivalent to Beastiality. The (logline reads: “Randy wants to marry his dog, Koko…is it for love, money or something else?).
No. It’s a misinterpretation of [the] logline. There is no beastiality in [the] Koko logline or anywhere in the story. In contrast, Koko doesn’t talk about sex, but love, only pure and true love.
If gay people are allowed to marry then one day people will be able to marry animals legally. Was that your intent?
No. It’s writer’s imagination and fiction.
What do you think when I tell you that has been one of the great debates from conservative people: That gay people shouldn’t be allowed to marry because then others would be allowed to marry animals?
No. Again it’s [the] writer’s imagination/fiction story. In fact, [the] Koko story supports gay marriage and asking permission in court to marry animals too on the ground of just love and affection/bond between them).
Do you believe homosexuality is a perversion or kink?
No. I have no clue and have no opinion about homosexuality or homosexual life … so I have no comments, and I have no right to say anything about it.
What message do you hope people retain after watching your film?
(The) Koko story is about [how] one can find his/her true soulmate in any form of body, whether male, female, animal, or tree.
After watching the film, people may have a different opinion and I am okay with that but my personal take on the film is this:
First, there is no anti-gay message in the film.
Though the concept got triggered by [the] Obama speech on same-sex marriage law, the rest is the writer’s imagination just like how most fiction story writers do: 5% fact ~95% imagination or exaggerated.
I am [a] filmmaker, and for me, Koko is “just another film.” I found Koko a unique, funny, entertaining story of true & pure love between human & dog, still fiction, so I made the film. Currently, I am working on another film on [a] totally different topic – on Indian backgrounds where the Indian politicians are more concerned about killing cows and neglecting women getting raped and/or killed every day. FYI, I am Hindu and vegetarian. I personally don’t support killing cows, but as a filmmaker, I like the story.
Is there anything else you want readers to know?
I’d like to clarify one point from my Movie Blog interview. When I said, “Totally unnatural and unacceptable by anyone including me, we can’t even imagine that kind of society we will be living in.” I meant the marriage between man [and] dog. That’s why I said, “will be,” [as I was] not talking about [the] present.