Homosexuality is not a subject many are comfortable discussing in India. But it’s not just common folk who chose to steer clear of a conversation hovering close to the letters L-G-B-T. Homosexuality seems to elude Bollywood itself as you can never find enough films which movies out there which include characters other than heterosexuals. Out of the hundreds of characters in their films, both major and minor, everyone’s straight?! If you ask me, that’s unnatural! Granted that the industry has taken a step towards being more LGBTQ-inclusive, however, what they have to offer is neither appealing nor seems correct.
Although films like Deepa Mehta’s Fire attracting a barrage of condemnation, they did help pave the way for future films albeit, very few chose to take that road. While no one seemed to prefer an out and out gay-themed film, Bollywood restrained itself from including gay characters altogether in big-budget films keeping the existence of homosexuality as subtle as possible.
After the millennium year, the first blockbuster film that comes to mind which mentioned homosexuality was Karan Johar’s Kal Ho Naa Ho. While we can’t thank him enough for introducing the theme into popular films, he chose to do it through homophobic humour which, soon turned into a trend.
The setting was a little different when it came to dealing with lesbianism. The 2004 film Girlfriend chose to go with sensationalisation ’cause, what better use is there for two attractive gay women, right?
It was 2008 when Madhur Bhandarkar created Fashion. While the film was great and the gay characters felt original (for a change), to no fault of its own, it failed to avoid a few stereotypes- men in fashion, i.e., men around other women, are gay.
The same year, Johar reintroduced the subject in his film Dostana which presented a terrible image of homosexuality.
Trying to make it ‘light’ and ‘fun’ and ‘comfortable enough for families’, Johar gave the impression that it’s something to be made fun of and deliberately stuck to stereotypes to appeal to a wider audience. Nothing says homo like two straight men pretending to be in a live-in to try their luck at a hot chick, you know…
Abhishek Bachchan must have a knack for homophobia ’cause in his 2012 film Bol Bachchan, he was as obnoxious as one could get. While the film doesn’t touch upon the subject, there’s a scene in the film where Bachchan dances, much like a Bollywood heroine would, and it is as suggestive as it is cringeworthy.
Another name tagged to Johar’s, Bombay Talkies. This time he tried his hand with a married man, Randeep Hooda’s Dev- a closeted homosexual. Not as dangerously unpleasant as Johar’s last works but, it was still that clichéd gay character who is messed up because of his troubling sexuality.
Although Johar more or less cleared his name with Fawad Khan’s Rahul Kapoor in Kapoor & Sons, there’s still a dearth of decent homosexual characters in Bollywood which needs to be rectified asap.
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