Bollywood has been constantly under fire for its notorious representation of the LGBTQ community. From portraying them as too feminine to deliberately showing them in a caricature that is supposed to be “not that smart”, Bollywood has been guilty of showing members from LGBTQ community through the lens of stereotypes. Fortunately, you can say that all hasn’t been lost when it comes to Indian cinema because they still have been churning independent films on issues relating to the community that lives on the fringes of the society. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender that come together to make the much controversial LGBT community and while they all may be different in their mannerisms, the Indian cinema has had the habit of putting them all under one blanket.
Here are some of the films on LGBTQ issues that were a breath of refreshment after the same old stale interpretations of the community:
- Margarita With A Straw (2016): Kalki Koechlin’s film portrays bisexuality but it goes deeper than just that. The film speaks about the bisexual identity of a differently abled individual. The most beautiful thing about Shonali Bose’s film is that it strays away from any melodrama whatsoever and talks about disability and sexuality with a nuanced approach.
2. Aligarh (2016): The Manoj Bajpai film has been critically acclaimed. Based on the true story of Professor Ramchandra Siras of Aligarh Muslim University, Hansal Mehta’s film managed to hold up the mirror that no one wants to see their reflection in. The hard-hitting movie talks about prejudice against homosexuals in India.
3. I Am (2011): The film is a montage of four lives. The chapter ‘I Am Omar’ shows the life of a gay man in Mumbai. The story weaves around his encounter with Mumbai’s police officials who misuse Article 377 and indulge in sexual harassment and blackmailing.
4. Bombay Talkies (2013): This movie marked the centenary year of Bollywood and was a tribute to all things related to the industry. One particular story by Karan Johar in the anthology showed a gay relationship between Saqib Saleem and Randeep Hooda.
5. LOEV (2015): The movie which was shot in extreme secrecy explores the gay relationship in a contemporary society. Netflix has acquired the rights for this film which was shot during turbulent times of India’s extreme LGBT laws.
6. Sisak (2017): The first silent short film on the gay community was banned in India. The 20-minute film by Faraz Arif Ansari that has been winning hearts and recognition worldwide instead.
7. Maacher Jhol (2017): The film follows the trials of a Bengali art curator, Lalit Ghosh, who is trying to come out to his father. The film draws the irony with Maacher Jhol, something normally included in the cuisine as opposed to the “abnormal” relations of a gay man. The 12-minute short film won the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival and made India proud at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France.
8. Fire (1996): Two young Indian women, Sita and Radha, whose husbands choose celibacy or mistresses over them, find a passionate relationship amidst a close-minded society. The movie featuring Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das was way ahead of its time.
All these films have carved a unique voice and held up a responsible mirror to the taboo that surrounds the LGBT community in our country. Which one would be your pick this weekend?
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