India is now not a rustic that criminalises homosexuality. The defiant click on-clack of excessive heels and flamboyant saris on males in delight parades have turn into commonplace even in smaller cities. But that stated, there’s an apparent query that wants our consideration: Are our movies and reveals prepared to actually depict the actuality of queer lives?
“When I started making films, there were no takers,” says queer filmmaker Sridhar Rangayan whose Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival screens as much as 30 Indian queer movies yearly. These movies hardly ever discovered a market. Part of the cause has been that Bollywood, till just lately, was the sole purveyor of queer narratives. Made in 2002 however banned by Indian censors, Rangayan’s first movie, The Pink Mirror (Gulabi Aaina) grew to become a staple at worldwide movie festivals. It was solely after Netflix launched the movie in 2016 that it discovered a wider viewers. Rangayan says there has just lately been a “sea change”, due to streaming.
The arrival of Netflix marked new beginnings. Not solely did reveals like Sacred Games and Selection Day have queer plotlines, the platform additionally gave entry to a number of hitherto unreleased queer movies. Soon sufficient, different streaming platforms have been emboldening creators to experiment with content material. Post the Section 377 ruling in September 2018, filmmakers felt they may inform extra LGBTQIA+ tales on the Indian display screen. Though this resulted in outstanding progress, some argue a lot work nonetheless must be carried out.
According to Moulee, co-founding father of Queer Chennai Chronicles, an impartial publishing home, “While we’re still a long way from having normalised queer characters in films, the nature of representation is slowly changing—it was cruel 10 years ago, but today it employs a much-needed sensitive eye.” However, regardless of this new sensitivity, regardless of having left behind caricatures that movies like Dostana and Girl Friend popularised, queerness, feels Kartik Nair, is commonly nonetheless portrayed as a curiosity. “Queerness is often a plot twist or a secret that needs to be exposed in a disruptive and climatic way. Repeatedly, the narratives we see use queerness as a shock reveal,” says the professor of movie research at Temple University, Pennsylvania, US.
Konkona Sen Sharma and Aditi Rao Hydari in a nonetheless from the third phase of the 2021 movie ‘Ajeeb Daastaans’ titled ‘Geeli Pucchi’
Queer illustration nonetheless stays a thorny and infrequently unresolved challenge. “When it comes to representation, two things come into play—are there queer characters onscreen? Secondly, are there queer actors and filmmakers with access to the means of production?” asks Nair. While there was a profusion of queer characters in motion pictures and reveals throughout languages, there are nonetheless solely only a few queer actors and administrators who’re open about their sexuality.
So, what occurs when the portrayal of queer lives is left to cis-het administrators and actors? The work of some filmmakers like Alankrita Shrivatsava (Made in Heaven, Bombay Begums) and Neeraj Ghaywan (Geeli Pucchi) has been delicate, however in a market that always sensationalises sexualityfor the sake of titillation, many such alternatives are squandered, or worse. “Take the case of the Netflix’s Tamil anthology, Paava Kadhaigal. It had big names from the industry and a bigger canvas to explore different themes, but the makers couldn’t shake off their prejudices and what we got was a caricature-ish portrayal of a lesbian relationship,” Moulee says. The level isn’t that each one queer characters should be faultless—the Tamil movie Super Deluxe, as an illustration, portrayed a transgender girl with out airbrushing her flaws—quite, they should be portrayed as human.
In the finish, Rangayan believes that diversifying queer content material throughout platforms is one strategy to obtain true illustration: “In many ways I feel we are still preaching to the choir with too much focus on stories that narrate the angst of being lesbian, gay and transgender for an elite urban audience. What about the others on the spectrum? When their stories start getting made, I believe true representation will happen.”
The LGBTQIA+ Watchlist
The Other Love Story (2016)
A nonetheless from the 2016 movie ‘The Other Love Story’
Rupa Rai’s Kannada net present (accessible on YouTube with English subtitles) is a thoughtfully crafted story of two women who discover themselves sexually awakening in Bengaluru.
Romil and Jugal (2017)
A nonetheless from the 2017 movie ‘Romil and Jugal’
Billed as the “modern-day Romeo and Juliet”, ALTBalaji’s present is large on theatrics, however with cheap performing and glorious manufacturing values, it reveals that queer love tales will be mainstream, too.
A nonetheless from the 2020 movie ‘Aadat’
YouTube is replete with queer brief movies, however this Hindi/ Urdu brief movie a couple of closeted Muslim man hiring a intercourse employee is made memorable by its foreboding tenderness.
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