Hindi cinema has been quite unfair and rough to the LGBTQIA+ community and whatever they have been trying to compensate for, looks more of a staying relevant move than actual redemption.
Remember ‘Dostana’? If you haven’t watched the film yet, please watch at your own risk. The film had every bit of homophobia put in a comic way. ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’, one of the viewers’ favourite delights had Kanta Ben getting horror pangs whenever she looked at two men in an intimate position. ‘Housefull’, for example, had so much homophobia by Boman Irani’s character.
Cinema plays an important role in shaping mindsets and while most transgender women have been shown either begging or surviving through sex work, their oppression became an instrument for the society to mock them or pity them.
While some films were made with utmost sincere efforts like ‘Fire'(1996), the audience were not ready to receive a film about women’s sexual liberation but it remains one of the most powerful films made in the Indian cinema especially about a lesbian love story. We can’t help but mention ‘Girlfriend’ (2004) which was a pathetic take on how a queer character is shown as a desperate predator who sedates and sleeps with their roommate and tries, in everyway possible, to make her fall in love with them and leave her boyfriend.
In recent times, whether it was ‘Paatal Lok'(web series) or ‘The Fame Game’, characters belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community were treated in a more humane, normal way. ‘Badhai Do’, although it talks about lavender marriages, still got a lot of things right, especially the characterisation. ‘Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui’ was, again, an attempt in the right direction but to be able to make it a mass entertainer, ‘jokes’ were made about a trans girl. ‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga’ was a sweet lesbian story treated with love and that is what happens when you bring real people to write real scripts. For the unversed, Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga was written by Gazal Dhaliwal who happens to be a trans woman.
Anil Kapoor, who played a rather sensible father in Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga has been a part of the movie ‘Welcome’ where he says a homophobic statement to Dr. Ghunghroo which goes like, “Saala tum logon ki taadat kuch zyada hi badhti jaa rahi hai”. ‘Fashion’ (2007) promised authenticity of the fashion world but homosexual characters were shown in a rather stereotypical way. ‘Raja Hindustani’, another sick representation of “Naram Garam and Garam Naram”, wants us to bang our head on the wall.
A lot of brilliant films weren’t even allowed to release and one of them being Late Irrfan Khan’s ‘Adhura’ which was also India’s first film on a gay love story. In recent news, it was reported that Onir was stopped from making a gay love story of an army officer and we don’t need to ask why. Men in uniform can’t be gay according to them.
The Hindi Cinema will take some more time to be able to put out right queer characters. We have barely started seeing powerful and grey women characters. Do you think we missed any film? Write it in the comments and let’s begin the discussion.