Hello from the other side, beautiful people!
Given the current situation we are in, a little glimmer of hope is a welcome change. Heavy clouds come with silver linings, and somewhere over the rainbow, you’ll see it shining bright. Speaking of rainbows, we’ve entered halfway into the year with June and it’s officially,
P R I D E M O N T H ! We are proud. Yes we are. However, that doesn’t come without acknowledging the realistic implications of being queer in India – an experience that be daunting and unpleasant, a lot of times, a far cry from what Western cinema may have portrayed. The stigma of coming out can be gut-wrenching, a result that often has a ripple effect across, and into your social circles. Yet in the Indian context, there are commonalities in the strength and stories that may make it not a completely solitary and lonely experience.
While we would rather be celebrating our pride and taking it to the streets, we take this time of being home, for the greater good and safety of humanity, to remind ourselves that we are responsible, as a community to not only uphold the goodness of mankind, but to remind us of freewill of humanity in having a good and safe life.
We bring to you an edit of must-see movies that share the struggles, freedom, stories and more importantly, emotions of being queer in modern India.
1. Margarita With a Straw (2014)
Kalki Koechlin stars in this coming-of-age film that follows a college student with Cerebral Palsy, Laila, as she discovers herself, and her sexuality. The 2014 film, expertly authored by director, Shonali Bose, touches upon themes never spoken of before – from self-acceptance, inclusion, disability and the innate human need of intimacy. The film has won several accolades at film festivals, with a special mention to Koechlin’ stellar performance.
If you haven’t discovered the nuances of this beautifully-made movie already, now is the time.
Watch it on Jio Cinema.
2. My Brother Nikhil (2005)Based on the true story of Dominic D’Souza, My Brother Nikhil talks about the adversities of an AIDS patient. Playing the titular role, Sanjay Suri gives a roaring performance as a talented swimmer who comes to discover the disease and the aftermath of being affected by it. The film explores several themes such as same-sex relations, the denial and indifference of the awareness required on the disease. At the same time, the movie bravely shows the underlying fear of AIDS and the subsequent ostracizing and trauma that the patient faces. My Brother Nikhilbeautifully threads the story by building a symbiotic emotion between its characters.
The movie is told through the eyes of Nikhil’s sister, Anu, played by Juhi Chawla.
Watch it on Hotstar.
3. Super Deluxe (2019)
Perhaps the boldest claim by Tamil cinema, as quoted by many, Super Deluxe is an undeniable watch for those with a taste for the eccentric. The film is directed by Thiagarajan Kumararaja and is a complete cinematic experience that has equal measures of philosophy, fun, darkness, emotion, et al.
The movie isn’t spoon-fed to the audience and doesn’t try to send across a message. Although it’s a film on love, sex, gender, life, and more, Super Deluxe uses its character, Shilpa’s narrative to shed light on the adversities faced by the Transgender community. Vijay Sethupati’s performance steals the show as he expertly humanizes the character and delivers an honest portrayal of a Trans woman.
In 2019, Film Companion ranked Sethupathi’s performance in the list of 100 Greatest Performances of the decade.
Watch it on Netflix.
4. Loev (2015)
Loev is a film that breathes new life into its audiences, not by catering to a stereotype, but by addressing the universal conundrum of every relationship. There are glimpses of young love, confused love, unrequited love, and more. While the story is set in the context of 3 men, it rarely refers to it. Instead, it focuses on being an unforgettable love story, without pandering to societal perceptions and narratives. It’s simple and heartfelt, where the characters romance a melancholic emotion, where despite difficult questions and fleeting moments, there is a feeling of infinite bliss.
Watch it on Netflix.
5. Fire (1996)
Never before has Indian cinema seen a movie talk about a woman’s sexuality as beautifully as Fire. While there have been movies centered around the concept, director Deepa Mehta portrays it in a new and refreshing light.
The film directs itself against the backdrop of contemporary India and its patriarchal societal structure where the focus on the sexuality of the women boldly shows the oppression and marginalization of the community. The film ends with the women who were previously slaves to their doomed marriages, finding their path and voice in their desires and feelings, as said by Radha, “this isn’t familiar to me, this awareness of needs and desires.”
Watch it on YouTube.
While Netlix and Chill may be the only option in the current scenario, enjoy and celebrate your pride with these iconic and landmark moment in Indian queer cinema. We celebrate you, always!
STAY HOME, STAY SAFE xx