Bollywood And The Evolution Of Its LGBTQ Portrayal

LGBT (now more commonly recognised as the ‘LGBTQ’) is an acronym for the terms Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer. For those who aren’t aware, Queer is an umbrella term for homosexuality. It can also mean ‘Questioning’; for those who are confused about their sexual orientation. It has been in use since the 1990s.

Bollywood and its representation of the LGBTQ community
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Since the Supreme Court did away with the ridiculous Section 377, the country has not stopped rejoicing. But does doing away with a law legally, make it acceptable to everyone? Apparently no.

You must have encountered people who have used ‘gay’ as an insult. Bollywood celebrated the event with Facebook posts, Instagram posts, and Tweets. You’d think that that would make them more open about their age-old interpretation of the community in their movies. But, you were wrong. They have reduced to nothing for the sake of a few cheap laughs and crude remarks from the audience.

What you think of as harmful might be putting someone else to shame for who they are.

Let’s hop onto this gay tricycle and analyse Bollywood’s hypocrisy.

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Read More: A Guide To Coming Out Of The Closet To Your Friends And Family

1Dostana

Everyone has seen Dostana, the film that brought homosexuality to the masses. If we are to take KJo’s words for it, then multitudes of activists had bombarded him with gratitude. At a time when neither Abhishek Bachhan nor John Abraham could act, they were made to portray gay men in love. And it was obviously followed by the stereotype of being best friends with a girl and going for shopping!

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2Student of the Year

Student of the Year just needed a gay principal who openly hit on the P.T. teacher and made offensive jokes. There are two types of gay in Bollywood – horny and good-natured. Rishi Kapoor put the happy in gay.
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3Every crossdresser to be seen on television

Bollywood has never left any gap when it came to maintaining the equilibrium among all sections of the society. So, why would they leave transgenders and crossdressers? And it is not even to spread awareness but for ill-considered humour.

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4Jay Mehta nehi, Gay Mehta”

Have you heard about Pretentious Movie Reviews? If you haven’t then you should go and check Kanan Gill and Biswa Kalyan Rath’s YouTube channel. One movie that stuck out for this dialogue was Prem Aggan. 

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It was supposed to be a comical scene. But if you recall the movie, Jay Mehta was a guy who didn’t over-exaggerate his appearance and his mannerisms told us he belonged to a well-to-do family. Humiliating him based on his appearance just showed us how shallow this industry really is.

Read More: My Story – From A Homophobic To Playing A Gay In A Film

But does that mean it will never change? No. For the last couple of years, chiefly since the early 2018s, different production houses are coming up with shows that portray a member of the LGBTQ community.

1. Four More Shots Please! and Lisa Ray
Lisa Ray has played a lesbian in a British Drama, ‘I can’t think straight’. And after a decade of romancing a woman on-screen, she is back to portraying a gay woman in the Amazon Prime series, ‘Four More Shots Please!’
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Her character has been dealt with flawlessly, without the usual garish representation of its ancestors. It’s a simple story about four women who are trying to figure out life.

2. Sacred Gamed and Cuckoo

Cuckoo (Kubbra Sait), plays a transgender woman in Vikram Motwane’s Netflix series, Sacred Games. Her performance has been praised by almost every critic and she is gradually stealing the spotlight away from the main characters – Nawazuddin Siddique and Saif Ali Khan. Her backstory and character development have been brilliant. She is a cabaret dancer without the usual gaudy stereotypes tagging along with it.

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3. Made in Heaven and Karan

Karan (played by Arjun Mathur), plays the role of a wedding planner and a closeted gay man drowning in debt and dismay. Unlike previous Bollywood portrayals, Karan is unperturbed by his sexuality and doesn’t allow it the position of being called a ‘burden’. He even told a foreigner once how people do whatever they want to do, despite the societal chains holding them back.

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The show chooses to indirectly address Section 377 and the Right to Privacy. After which, his character trope spirals into a whirlwind of emotional trauma and self-acceptance.

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