It’s 2022, and it’s pride month, So let’s talk about the good stuff, even if it’s a little too less! Lately, queer stories are getting queer narratives right, mostly. There are rightly done representations, but there still are instances that we see on the silver screen where the characters from the LGBTQ community are not treated kindly or just placed to crack jokes, or worse, they are some weird, inaccurate depictions. There has been a lot of learning and unlearning, but yea, there is a long way to go.
Some of them we’ve noticed that have done a good job of writing queer characters and a little more authentic representations of the LGBTQIA community are:
Antharam, directed by P Abhijith, is the first Malayalam movie starring transwoman Neha. The film is produced under the banner of Group Five Entertainments and tells the story of a family as well as the social politics of the transgender community. A. Revathi, a writer, actress, and trans activist, will be making a guest appearance in the film. Antharam movie was recently screened as an inaugural film at the 13th KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, the largest queer film festival in South Asia.
The movie has also been screened at many international film festivals like the Jaipur International Film Festival (JIFF) and the International Film Festival Thrissur (IFFT). Neha recently received the Kerala State Film Award for transgender actors, instituted for the first time last year.
The 2022 film, Badhaai Do, directed by Harshavardhan Kulkarni, stars Rajkummar Rao and Bhumi Pednekar. The story follows the lead characters as they come to an arrangement that quite a few queer people are pushed into because of their circumstances or family pressure. Shardul, a gay man, and Sumi, a lesbian, enter into a “lavender marriage,” also called a “marriage of convenience,” to avoid coming out to their traditional families.
Currently being streamed on Netflix, Badhaai Ho’s lighter moments revolve primarily around domestic life, as would be expected of a typical married couple. There are some beautiful and somewhat unconventional romantic scenes to show how the two romances parallel the relationship that builds between Sumi and Shardul.
Currently streaming on Netflix, Cobalt Blue is Sachin Kundalkar’s screen adaptation of his own acclaimed novel of the same name. It is the account of a brother and sister, who both fall in love with their new nameless (in the movie) tenant, played by Prateik Babbar.
Cobalt Blue explores same-gender relationships with less focus on social pressure and all while still being a bit hidden. Cobalt Blue is really a coming-of-age story and is well written and also well made! The movie is visually striking, while also being slow and lyrical. The narration is intermingled with wonderful literature, some heartwarming Hindi poetry, music, and art. It is slow, On the whole, the movie is not for everyone.
Sheer Qorma has been in the making for a while now and is finally released in 2022. It is a story of many many things, not just about being queer. It is about acceptance, identity, and family, and has well-written queer Muslim women and non-binary characters of color. It has been written and directed by a queer person, and 95 percent of its cast are women, which in itself makes it so wonderful!
The movie is directed by Faraz Arif Ansari, won the Equality in Cinema Award at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM) and stars Shabana Azmi, Swara Bhasker, and Divya Dutta. The movie shows the family dynamics and the struggles of people with different sexualities who struggle to belong and yearn to be accepted by their families.
Baai: Modern Love Mumbai
Starring Pratik Gandhi and Ranveer Brar, the segment in ‘Modern Love Mumbai’ called ‘Baai’ is a love story between two gay men and how one of them has hidden his sexuality from his grandmother. Currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video, Baai is directed by Hansal Mehta (who also directed Aligarh) and talks about the bond that the protagonist has with his grandmother. It is a story of how love succeeds, heals past trauma, and brings acceptance.
Apart from these, there have been several other series on OTT which have well-developed queer characters, not always as the main focus of the narration, but nevertheless well-done characters. A few we would like to mention are Fame Game and Aarya 2.
A special mention goes to Guilty Minds, an Amazon Prime original that has one of the lead characters as a lesbian played by Sugandha Garg. The character has significant scenes about her personal life and is quite well done. She lives with her partner, their struggle to hide their relationship from the partner’s parents, and her partner’s struggle around coming out to her mum were just a few ways in which the series explored the complexities of queer relationships.