Posted by Karthik Kotian
“Look for a rainbow in every cloud.” – CJI Dipak Misra.
This quote perfectly epitomised the emotions felt by the LGBTQ+ community in India. As the archaic Section 377 was struck down by the Supreme Court on Sep 6, 2018, India ushered in a new beginning. The beginning of a time where no one would be discriminated on the basis of their sexual orientation.
Even Bollywood has come of age when it comes to representation of the LGBTQ+ community. From crass depictions made for cheap comic relief to heartfelt portrayals that were as real as it gets, Bollywood has had quite an evolution. As a new film called Section 377 Ab Normal based on the iconic judgement releases on ZEE5, let’s take a glimpse into some of the best LGBTQ+ films that brought a much-needed discussion on queer rights to the big screen.
1. Section 377 Ab Normal (2019)
Why not begin this list with the film that inspired this article? Section 377 Ab Normal traces back the lives of a set of individuals who spearheaded the fight for LBGTQ+ equality. The series stars an ensemble cast consisting of actors such as Maanvi Gagroo, Tanvi Azmi, Zeeshan Ayyub, Kumud Mishra and Shashank Arora. Shedding light on the real struggles of people who took up this cause, you must watch Section 377 Ab Normal on ZEE5 for a hard-hitting insight into this transitional phase of India.
2. Margarita, with a Straw (2016)
This touching film sees Kalki Koechlin give one of the best performances in her career. Co-written and directed by Shonali Bose, the film follows the life of Laila, a teenager with cerebral palsy. Among other themes, the film also sheds focus on Laila’s bisexuality and her journey for self-discovery and independence.
3. Aligarh (2016)
Based on the real-life story of Ramchandra Siras, a gay professor at Aligarh Muslim University, the film is a powerful glimpse into the ostracism people face due to their sexual orientation. As you watch the conversation between Siras (Manoj Bajpai) and Deepu (Rajkummar Rao) play through the film, you are hit by a wave of melancholy from the simple yet poignant dialogues.
4. My Brother… Nikhil (2005)
Another film inspired by a real life individual, My Brother… Nikhil follows the story of a state-level swimming champion Nikhil Kapoor who contracts HIV. Following which, he is forcibly put in quarantine and his family and friends abandon him. It is only his sister Anamika, her boyfriend Sam (Gautam Kapoor) and Nikhil’s boyfriend Nigel who stand by him. The struggles you see the protagonist go through hit like a punch in the gut, making you question the environment of prejudice and misinformation in India.
5. Fire (1996)
When Fire was released in India, it created an uproar among the traditional sections of the society. While indie and regional cinema have addressed LGBTQ+ themes before, this was the first time Bollywood addressed the issue. Directed by Mira Nair and starring Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das, the film focussed on the lives of Sita and Radha, two sisters-in-law who get into a relationship and face strong opposition.
So, that was our list of films that featured strong characters from the LGBTQ+ community and addressed their struggles, starting a much-needed discussion that continues to date. Which films would you include in this list? Let us know in the comments.
Also read: Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga: Moving Towards Positive LGBTQIA+ Representation
When Karthik is not writing, he is either watching or reading about movies. Always on the lookout for thought-provoking tales in fiction, he calls Mumbai his humble home.
Featured Image Source: Zee TV