On 6th September, India's Supreme Court finally made the decision to scrap Section 377, making gay sex legal. As the country rejoiced at this victory for the LGBTQ community, I began to wonder how our most powerful tool of influence, Bollywood and the celebrities who represent it, actually portrayed the community.
From Govinda in Partner to Rishi Kapoor in Student Of The Year, Indian film industry finds it easier to stereotype homosexuals, turning them into a prop for comic relief than actually providing them with a sincere backstory. After completing my hunt to find characters who were celebrated for their homosexuality, I made a list of movies that actually portrayed homosexuality in an honest light.
Very few Bollywood movies understand the concept of subtlety, yet Kapoor & Sons had Fawad Khan playing a homosexual man who is yet to come out to his family. He wasn't loud, ostentatious or over the top, which seemed like a breath of fresh air in mainstream Indian cinema.
A film that was ahead of its time, in 1996, Fire had Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das playing housewives whose husbands had abandoned them. However, the two lead characters find comfort in each other, as the film takes you through the confusion and complexes of their relationship.
This movie was quite bold in its statements, storyline and acting style. However, the film managed to get Sameer Soni's character right as he played a fashion designer and a closet gay.
A married man on a honeymoon with his wife comes out as gay. But somehow the character played by Vikram Chatwal, the famous hotelier doesn't leave you hating him. The movie captures his turmoil beautifully and his wife helps him in accepting his orientation.
The film released in 2005 and starred Juhi Chawla and Sanjay Suri in lead roles. The movie captured Nikhil's (Sanjay Suri) journey as he is diagnosed with HIV and taken into police custody for the same. Juhi Chawla and Purab Kohli fight for his freedom.
Directed by Anurag Kashyap, Karan Johar, Zoya Akhtar, and Dibakar Banerjee, this film was a compilation of four short stories, one by each director. Karan Johar's story followed Randeep Hooda and Saqib Saleem, a married man and the intern to his wife (Rani Mukherjee) on their journey of falling in love.
Kalki Koechlin played a teenage girl who suffers from cerebral palsy and is discovering her sexuality. A fragile subject, the movie was written courageously by Sonali Bose and executed phenomenally by Kalki.
One of Rajkummar Rao and Manoj Bajpayee's finest work, the movie follows a college professor as he is harassed and suspended from his job for being closet gay. My personal favourite in the list, the movie is endearing and honest.
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