Portrayals of LGBTQIA+ characters in Hindi Cinema have often been cliched, offensive and ridiculed. But amongst this ruin, there are some pieces of treasure that are not to be missed. We present to you a carefully curated list of movies from the Hindi Film Industry that got it right.
- Margarita with a straw
Starring Kalki Koechlin as Laila, a young girl with cerebral palsy and Sayani Gupta as Khanum, a visually impaired woman, this film is a sweet and heartwarming story of the differently- abled figuring out and reveling in their sexuality. This is a film with a lot of heart and stellar performances.
Starring Manoj Bajpayee and Rajkummar Rao, Aligarh is inspired by the true story of Professor R Siras and his fight against his suspension from the Aligarh Muslim University on grounds of morality. This film released when homosexuality was still a crime in India and attempted to start conversations around the same. Bajpayee’s nuanced portrayal of SR Siras is not only understated and unrushed, but also so real, that it tugs at your heartstrings.
As one of the first Bollywood films that broached the subject of homosexuality, Fire explored the relationship between two women played by Nandita Das and Shabana Azmi. This film is a depiction of the suppression faced by women who try to explore their sexuality and the subsequent subjugation by society. Although not a “traditional feel-good” film, it traverses the waters of female sexuality, agency and empowerment in a subtle and charming way.
- My brother Nikhil
Starring Juhi Chawla and Sanjay Suri as siblings, My brother Nikhil portrays the hardships of people with HIV. Even though it highlights the innumerable humiliations Nikhil goes through because of his disease and sexuality, it is also a very touching depiction of the love and support between the siblings. This film is moving, terrifying and understated in just the right amounts.
- Kapoor & Sons
Kapoor & Sons starred some of the most popular faces of the Hindi film industry such as Alia Bhatt, Sidharth Malhotra and Fawad Khan to portray a dysfunctional family drama. Although the central trope of the film didn’t revolve around Fawad Khan (Rahul)’s sexuality the film handles the subject with great ease and subtlety while not diluting the impact of his character. The film normalises homosexuality how Rahul is at terms with his identity and in a satisfying relationship.
About the Author
Prishita is a recent graduate from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. She majored in Psychology and was an honors student. She is working on getting her master’s in Industrial Psychology. She has worked on multiple research papers and articles throughout her undergraduate career and worked with content creation companies.