If I wait for someone else to validate my existence, it will mean that I’m shortchanging myself.
– Zanele Muholi, South African activist
Being proud of your identity irrespective of your gender, the one you are born into or the one you identify with, and sexual preferences, is a human right. And cinema has the biggest role to play in educating people and create awareness about LGBTQIA+ community. The month of June is celebrated as Pride Month, a trend which started in 1969 to show solidarity for the community.
From binge-worthy series like Modern Family and Schitt’s Creek to teen dramas like Sex Education, Riverdale, Elite and 13 Reasons Why to reality shows like Queer Eye and Dance Queen, to documentaries like Tiger King to a sitcom, Brooklyn Nine Nine—foreign content has normalised gender-fluid subjects.
Indian movies such as Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga and Hum Bhi Akele Tum Bhi Akele and digital series of the likes of Pataal Lok, Geeli Puchi (from Ajeeb Daastaans), Sacred Games, Made In Heaven and Bombay Begums are also doing their bit. But is it enough? We ask the celebs.
Youth is the key
Zareen Khan has portrayed the role of a lesbian in Hum Bhi Akele Tum Bhi Akele, a movie recently released on Disney+Hotstar. She feels as a public figure, celebs have the power to educate the audience on such sensitive and important topics. She adds, “This responsibility also needs to be handled with care and not frivolously. When this film was offered to me, I was happy that such an issue was being addressed in Bollywood.”
She adds, “Educated and sensitive, today’s youth is all embracing. It was made possible because of sensible media portrayal of the community, namely films and series, shattering prevailing misconceptions and prejudices.”
Pooja Dey, who played a lesbian in Gandii Baat 5 on AltBalaji, says, “Not only as an actor but as a human being too I am very positive towards gender-fluid topics. I have friends who are of different sexuality and I am proud of them for owning it with pride and challenging our stereotypical society. Though challenging, this role is close to my heart because I know their struggles. I would be happy if my performance can bring even 1 per cent of change in the mindset of my audience.”
Actress Eesha Agarwal hails the move the Indian entertainment industry has made to introduce more gay and lesbian characters in the storyline. She says, “It has broken the ‘just boy or a girl’ stereotype. The audience has become used to watching gender-fluid characters unlike earlier times. It has become all about inclusivity. The issues addressed by these shows are something people don’t talk about normally, and the idea is to normalise the concept. But it sure is a long fight.”
A series titled The Bold Type, which is a beautiful love story of Kat and Adena, is what she recently binged on.
The city angle
It has been one year since director, producer and screenwriter Ojaswwee Sharma released his docu-drama, Admitted, which is the biography of Dhananjay Chauhan, the first transgender student of Panjab University. While making the film, he says he didn’t realise how big the subject was and the impact it could make. He adds, “We don’t understand the underlying issues that simultaneously are at play when we talk about LGBTQIA+ community. I had talked about transgenders because their rights have been recognised so late and there are still problems with the law. Dhananjay has a doctorate degree but has no job. Just one or two trangenders finding a respectable job is just the start, but there’s a long way.”
For the monthly binge
To ring in the celebration of the Pride Month this year, BookMyShow Stream is bringing a compelling line up of films from different corners of the world, all #CuratedWithLove. So, let the movie marathon begin from the comfort of your couch.
- Happiest Season
- Margarita with a Straw
- The Danish Girl
- Portrait of a Lady on Fire
- M. Butterfly
- A Fantastic Woman