Queer representation and the presence of LGBTQ+ characters in mainstream media has exploded over the past two decades in Western countries. Much of this is down to past LGBTQ+ movies and TV shows that were arguably ahead of their time in terms of representation. Outside of Western media, of course, it’s important to recognize that similar advances in diversity and inclusion of LGBTQ+ characters and stories are also happening in global film industries.
India, in particular, recently decriminalized same-sex relations, as reported by Time, which The Hollywood Reporter says will have a further impact on Bollywood films and TV series. While Indian cinema is no stranger to LGBTQ+ content, there is evidence (since the ruling) of an increase in the production of stories where queer relationships and characters – as well as gender non-conforming characters , transgender and non-binary – proudly stand in the spotlight. Here are the best Indian movies and TV series with LGBTQ+ representation.
5 cobalt blue
cobalt blue is a romance and drama set in 90s Goa and follows the story of a young writer (Neelay Mehendale) caught in the middle of his family’s troubles and the rise of student movements at his university. Her life and that of her sister are turned upside down by the arrival of a mysterious and handsome tenant in their house. From this point, a love triangle between Tanay (Mehendale), her sister (Anjali Sivaraman) and the newcomer (Prateik Babbar) begins and unfolds throughout the film.
cobalt blue is a book to film adaptation of the novel by Sachin Kundalkar, who is also the director of the film. It’s a melancholy film capable of carrying the narrative with grace and excitement until the last minute. The drama between the two brothers and how they overcame this struggle is a captivating experience. Ultimately, cobalt blue is an incredibly pleasant surprise for international queer cinema, with delicate yet sensual and romantic scenes that show queer affection in such a beautiful and well-acted way. Similar in theme and tone to call me by your name, cobalt blue is available on Netflix and deserves a screening.
4 Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan
Staging the life of Aman (Jitendra Kumar) and Kartik (Ayushmann Khurrana), two men in love, Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan recounts their struggle to convince their families to accept their relationship and the different opinions and views that each man has on the inherent tensions between coming out and the traditional customs and values of society. As things are never as easy as they seem, Aman’s family decides to marry him off to a girl, and it remains to be seen how this romance will be resolved the very day the Indian Supreme Court rules in favor of the decriminalization of homosexual relations. .
As a South Asian romantic comedy, Shubh Mangal Zyada SaavdhanThe main achievement of , besides the obvious and indispensable gay representation, is the lighthearted way in which acceptance, coming out and even discriminatory behavior are portrayed, which makes these themes more accessible to society in general, and is therefore able to reach more people who wouldn’t care to watch an LGBT-related movie otherwise. The audience will definitely laugh for many scenes and be mesmerized by the world-famous Bollywood dance scenes. Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
3 super luxury
super luxury begins when Mugil (Fahadh), the husband, is not at home, and the wife, Vaembu asks her ex-lover if he has forgotten her and invites him to her house. Before the audience can relax in their comfortable seats, a group of teenagers appear, determined to make their teenage dreams come true. Next comes Raasukutti (the breathtaking Ashwanth Ashokkumar), who has been waiting seven years for his father Manickyam (Vijay Sethupathi) to return home. And he returns, but this time as a transgender woman named Shilpa. Then there is Dhanasekharan (Mysskin), a preacher who believes he was saved from the tsunami by God for a greater purpose.
super luxuryThe director of Thiagarajan Kumararaja tackles difficult subjects, such as adultery, stereotypes and the challenges that transgender people face in public and private spaces – from harassment in police custody to social humiliation and the absence neutral toilets. However, he fumbled in a few scenes, which could have been handled with much more sensitivity and consideration for an already suffering community. Nonetheless, it brings the film to a satisfying and overall climax. Rasukutty, in Shilpa’s situation, has our full attention and emotions. Only unconditional love is understood by the impartial mind of a child. Under whatever appearance or identity he is, he extends his arms and his heart to his father. The transgender community yearns for this kind of openness. The film is streaming on Netflix.
2 Four more shots please
The TV series set in the cosmopolitan city of Mumbai is the first female-led project in India resembling sex and the city and also brings to the table a range of other topics, such as queer and bi-characters. The show follows the lives of four young Indian women who have developed a close relationship over the course of their lives. The quartet gathers in a pub. Damini (journalist), Anjana (the group’s single mother and lawyer), Sidhi (the group’s youngest member with an overprotective, marriage-obsessed mother) and, of course, Umang (a bisexual personal trainer).
The story of Umang (played by actress and model Gurbani Judge) is the main draw, but it’s the arrival of actress Lisa Ray (I can not think straight, The unseen world) which the public leaves remembering. Ray plays Samara Kapoor, a well-known Bollywood actress who hires Umang to groom her for a potential role as an MMA fighter. Samara is well aware of the fickle nature of the film industry and she fears this will be one of her last roles if she doesn’t demonstrate that she is still in fighting shape. Umang and Samara quickly become friends (Umang has always had a thing for the actress) and embark on an inter-age romance. The first season was one of the top three most-watched Amazon original series in India in 2019, and the second season was considered “the most-watched Indian show on the platform” in May 2020. Shortly after the release of the second season, Amazon announced that the third season is underway.
The family drama Fire, directed by Deepa Mehta, is the study of a conservative society represented by its microcosm: the home. Men and women have clearly defined gender roles that neither contests until the arrival of the younger brother’s wife. When Radha (Karishma Jhalani) cannot have children, Ashok (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) does not reject her and take another wife. This intimate film explores the relationship that will develop between Radha and her sister-in-law Sita (Nandita Das) with large doses of eroticism, and it is important to remember that Mehta’s film was released in 1998, long before LGBTQ+ characters aren’t common in mainstream media, and so has been such an impactful endeavor for this director. At the end of the day, Fire is a silent revolution that has a lot of force (as evidenced by the anger and violence it has stirred in right-wing minds), and its questions about men, women, desire, bodies and sex are at both timeless and topical.
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