Until a couple of years ago, Bollywood films stereotyped LGBT characters and used them for comic relief. However, with India decriminalising Section 377 and the advent of progressive filmmakers, the industry is slowly and steadily moving towards responsible representation.
LGBT has created a hush in the recent years. People in India have started being normal about the whole thing. And, these movies have the most simple and decent ways of portraying it in the film!
Hansal Mehta tries to unravel the mysterious death of Aligarh Muslim University professor Ramchandra Siras, who’s privacy is invaded and he’s thrown out of his job, till a crusading journalist takes up his story and fight for justice. Aligarh explores many dimensions, and asks questions like what it is to be homosexual in India and the ill-treatment meted out to the LGBTQ community in the name of morality and sanctity of the society. With terrific performances from Manoj Bajpayee as Siras and Rajkummar Rao as journalist Deepu Sebastian, Aligarh heralded a new era for Indian cinema when dealing with LGBTQ themes.
2- ‘Kapoor & Sons’
In this film, Rahul (essayed by Fawad Khan) is a regular guy who tries to reconnect with estranged brother, navigates complicated family dynamics, and struggles to come out to his mother. It’s a nuanced character that aims at brushing away any negative stereotype associated with the LGBTQIA+ community.
While the whole film didn’t revolve around homosexuality, but the scene showing one drunken night and two friends wanting to explore their sexualities made for a realistic addition to the plot. A hesitant Mahi Arora (played by Kareena Kapoor) and Promita (played by Shahana) can be seen getting intimate in the film.
4- ‘Bombay Talkies’
In the story Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Yeh, Dev (Randeep Hooda) is married to a woman even though he’s not straight. When he meets Avinash (Saqib Saleem), he starts an affair with him, which ultimately ends his marriage. The story tries to send across the message that sexuality is not a choice, and that forcefully being in a heterosexual marriage will end up hurting both the parties.
5- ‘Margarita with a Straw’
Kalki Koechlin has proven that she is a brilliant performer time and time again. Kalki knocks it out of the park with a superb performance as a patient with cerebral palsy, who moves to New York and meets an enchanting woman who she falls in love with. The film is outstanding as it deals with disability and bisexuality in its rawest, truest form. Love knows no bounds, no conditions, no gender, no nothing- this is what the film shows and it is a true emotion.
It’s a great piece of work for anyone who’s confused about their sexual orientation, and need a little reassurance that they are not alone.
This classic Deepa Mehta film was notably way ahead of its time as it told the story of a lesbian relationship between two women trapped in loveless arranged marriages. A breathtakingly beautiful film featuring Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das. This ground breaking film paved way for Bollywood to portray homosexuality and love in its truest shades. The lesbian love story revolves around two women who find solace with one another after being stranded by their respective husbands. Even when homosexuality wasn’t widely accepted in Indian culture, this film featured an honest and significant representation of LGBT characters.
7- ‘My Brother… Nikhil’
A-list actors refused to play the role of Dominic D’Souza in My Brother Nikhil but that did not stop it from becoming one of the films to accurately represent the gay community. Set in Goa, this film does not depict homosexuality as a joke or a disease. It tackles the hardships faced by the people of the community and also talks about AIDS. We see the story of Nikhil Kapoor (Sanjay Suri), a state level swimmer who is loved and adored by his family. Things take a turn when Nikhil is diagnosed with HIV. Everyone other than his sister Anamika (Juhi Chawla) and boyfriend Nigel (Purab Kohli) turn against him.
8- ‘Dedh Ishqiya’
Dedh Ishqiya is special because it makes certain points and portrays certain themes on the silver screen with such artistic brilliance, beauty, boldness and subtlety that one cannot help but marvel. At the heart of the narrative, however, almost secretly protected in a gilded box is a pristine and beautiful relationship between the two female protagonists of the film- Muniya(Huma Qureshi) and Begum Para(Madhuri Dixit). Even the revelation of the fact that the relationship between Begum Para and Muniya is something more than friendship towards the climax is so aesthetically and soothingly achieved that one is left wonder struck.
9- ‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga’
Sonam Kapoor Ahuja plays a small-town girl who hides her sexuality from her family in fear of offending their sensibilities. The film steers clear of any stereotypes, and focuses on small-town India and its understanding of homosexual relationships. It’s a fun, family film with an important socially conscious message at the core of it.
10- ‘Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan’
While these LGBT movies started the process of more inclusive storytelling in Bollywood, this is just the beginning. Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan is an upcoming film that is moving the conversation forward. Starring Ayushmann Khurrana and Jitendra Kumarin the lead roles, the film is touted to be a romantic comedy about the love story of these two actors. The film is set to release in March 2020.