Shades of a Rainbow
There was a time in Bollywood when gay and queer characters were merely present in films for cringe-worthy comedy and over-the-top dramatics. Seeing that cinema is actually the mirror of the society we live in, we guess that was what the society thought of them as well. However, as time progressed and a little sense prevailed in people and the entertainment industry, we got to see some normalised and sane portrayal of the LGBTQ+ community in our films and web series.
Case in point, movies like Aligarh, Kapoor & Sons, Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga and Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan.
But the fight to bring forward this taboo started way before them. Back in 1996, Deepa Mehta stunned the Indian audiences with her film Fire, where she talked about the concept of a ‘lesbian relationship’ at a time when the society wasn’t too open to talk about homosexuality. Fast forward to 2005, the Juhi Chawla and Sanjay Suri starrer My Brother...Nikhil brought in lights taboo subjects like gay love and AIDS. These films were considered a little too ahead of their time and faced support as well as neglect in equal measures.
Now, when film stars like Ayushmann Khurana, Sonam Kapoor, Manoj Bajpayee take up the centre stage and normalise the love stories between gay or lesbian lovers and talk about their struggles, the nation and moviegoers stopped and took notice. Safe to say, after years of struggle, Bollywood is finally showing that everybody is free to love.
Not just the silver screen though, OTT platforms have also played a tremendous role in bridging this gap. Characters like Karan from web series, Made in Heaven, showed us the struggle that people in normal life go through just because they are open and forthcoming about their sexuality and how life looked like for so many people before Article 377 was scrapped for good. As former Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra said, “Respect for the individual choice is the essence of liberty; the LGBT community possess equal rights under the Constitution.”
Although it is still a long road ahead, it is certainly heartening to see that people are becoming vocal about their sexual preferences and how cinema and the entertainment industry is helping them.