Motion pictures are often held responsible for either exaggerating or underplaying the description of the LGBTQIA+ people. For the longest time they have been blamed for misinforming the society about the needs, status and challenges of the people belonging to the community. However, the scene can be seen shifting with the current generation of filmmakers repeatedly trying to rework the roles and dismantle the stereotypes revolving around the lives of queer people.
Hindi Cinema has been infamous for repeatedly misrepresenting homosexuality and transgenderism and often including the theme only for providing a comic relief than giving it the due weightage. Awkward silences and gestures to fill in the gap in order to not offend the Indian audience, too rigid to accept and normalize the concept, made the condition even more pitiful and coming out even more difficult. However, we do have a handful of movies to count on in the Hindi film industry which impart justice to the LGBTQ community instead of mocking the theme
1. Fire (1996)
The movie introduced the theme of homosexuality to the Indian audience and recieved heavy backlash mainly from the Right Wing for promoting Lesbianism. Loosely based on Ismat Chugtai’s Lihaaf , it tells the story of Radha and Sita and their journey to find solace in each other.
2. My Brother Nikhil (2005)
Set in an era spanning from 1987 to 1994, the film depicts the struggle of Nikhil who has been found HIV positive. The theme of homosexuality has been dealt with commendably throughout the movie.
3. I am (2011)
A collection of four different stories out of which ‘I Am Omar’ presents the life of a gay person in Mumbai and how police officials misuse Article 377 and resort to sexual harassment and blackmailing.
4. Margarita with a Straw (2014)
A teenager with Cerebral palsy relocates to America to pursue her graduation and comes of age to fall for a blind girl. The film beautifully deals with themes of inclusion, self-acceptance and sexuality of disabled people.
5. Aligarh (2015)
The plot revolves around a professor at a famed institution who is sacked from his post on the grounds of immorality and swirl of allegations and harassment that follows.
There have been certain impactful films that rolled out of regional cinema as well. Following are to be named specifically considering the theme of imparting justice to the portrayal of LGBTQ people:
1. Arekti Premer Golpo (Bengali)
The first film on homosexuality to be shot after the decriminalization of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. It focuses on the mental trauma faced by a filmmaker owing to his sexuality.
2. Randu Penkuttikal (Malayalam)
Based on a novel, it is one of the earliest films (1978) that discusses lesbianism in a normalized tone.
3. Sancharram (Malayalam)
The story of two young women, Kiran, a Hindu, and Delilah, a Catholic who realize that their relationship is much more than friendship only to fall for each other. The pair is then subjected to the cruel attitude of the society towards homosexuality.
4. Mitrachi Goshta (Marathi)
Based on Vijay Tendulkar’s play, the movie successfully managed to swirl the societal norms about sexuality and identity.
A Special mention for two short films that can be considered thought stirring in every sense:
1. Sisak – India’s First silent queer short film which speaks volumes through its screenplay and plotline.
2. Pudhakar – Ek Paul – The film is about a gay person being surprised by his folks when they accept him and his partner after he tells them about his sexual orientation.
Film industries abroad, well, have a whole brigade of films revolving around the theme of LGBTQ, some of them are listed here to binge on this pride month:
1. Holding the Man
Australian romantic drama film adapted from Timothy Conigrave’s 1995 memoir. The plot revolves around Tim and John who fall in love and how they tackle all the challenges that life throws at them.
An American coming of age drama that depicts the lasting impression that Juan ,a drug dealer, leaves on Chiron , an African-American boy.
A cinematic adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s tale of a lesbian affair in Fifties New York tells about the deep love that hits both Therese and Carol after they spot each other at a Manhattan departmental store.
4. Feel Good
A British Romantic drama that revolves around two men named Rusell and Glen who begin a sexual relationship just the weekend before one of them plans to leave the country.
Happy Watching !