For years, the LGBTQ community has been stigmatised and reduced to stereotypical caricatures in Indian cinema and more often than not, been depicted as symbols of ridicule, shame and even crime. Over the years, with significant awareness and understanding of gender diversity, it is heartening to note that cinema too has moulded its thought process to educate its viewers and present realistic images of homosexuality, bisexuality and transgender through well- etched and credible characterisation. While Bollywood has taken a few assured steps forward, the southern industry is not far behind in its attempt to push the envelope. June is Pride month-the month when the LGBTQ family gets together to celebrate their diversity, visibility and fight for the same rights as the heterosexual citizens of the nation. To commemorate this occasion, here are some films that succeed in portraying the essence of the rainbow community authentically through their narratives.
Dear Dad (Tamil, Hindi – 2016)
A turbulent road trip between a divorced father and son opens up many old wounds and presents new conflicts, shocking truths and unexpected confessions that rattles the core of their beliefs. Starring Aravind Swamy and Shivam Swaminathan as the two leads, the film was appreciated across cross-sections of the community for its sensitive handling of the subject.
Streaming on Netflix, Disney+ Hotstar and Amazon Prime
Moothon (Malayalam – 2019)
Moothon is a crime drama produced by Anurag Kashyap that tells the story of a young boy from Lakshadweep who comes to Mumbai in search of his elder brother who fled the island fearing for his life due to his sexual orientation. While the film was noted for its slick direction, it was especially lauded for its heart-warming and organic portrayal of a same-sex relationship. The film stars Nivin Pauly, Roshan Matthew, Sobitha Dhulipala and Shashank Arora.
Super Deluxe (Tamil – 2019)
Super Deluxe is a thought-provoking assemblage of four different stories that intertwine on one fateful day. One of the big blockbusters of 2019, the film was noteworthy for its sensitised sketch of a transgender character Shilpa played by Vijay Sethupathy. Whilst highlighting the hardships and typifications that the transgender community face, the director succeeds in presenting Shilpa with inherent dignity and nobility that the character deserves, never once stooping into caricatured assumptions.
Streaming on Netflix
Njan Marykutty (Malayalam – 2018)
Another film that makes a case for gender diversity and equality is the Malayalam film Njan MaryKutti. Jayasuriya in the titular role plays a transsexual man harbouring wishes to join the police force but struggles with the acceptance of his identity and is a victim of cruel discrimination associated with his orientation. The film was lauded for creating believable characters and going above the conventional taboos set by society.
Streaming on Sun Next
Goa (Tamil – 2010)
Goa is an entertaining Venkat Prabhu comedy that follows a group of friends who embark on a boys trip to Goa for some sun and fun. The film also introduces us to two gay characters in a relationship, played by Sampath and Aravind Akash. While the movie does fall prey to physical stereotyping, it does not demean or insult the partnership while also talking about the common emotions of possessiveness and jealousy that is a part of every relationship.
Streaming on Sun Next
My Son is Gay (Tamil – 2018)
My Son is Gay is an award-winning Tamil film that tells the story of a young gay man who comes out to his mother and the impact it has on their relationship thereafter. The film faced many hurdles just to get made but garnered positive responses from the critics and audience for pushing the boundaries and being an anthem of tolerance and acceptance of the LGBTQ community.
Happy Pride month, people. For more inspirational movies, click below.