Take any mainstream movie since the inception of Bollywood and you’re bound to find the same storyline where a boy meets a girl, they fall in love, and the rest is history. While such a conception of love and romance is seriously misleading in itself, the lack of representation of queer people, particularly queer love, is abhorrent.
The term ‘love story’ is used for movies of the romance genre, to be more precise they stand for a heterosexual version of love stories. Any discussion on the queer world and view in Bollywood seems a distant luxury. In the past several years, gay characters have had the ‘privilege’ to score themselves some space, but such characters are based on unhealthy and homophobic stereotypes. It seems that Bollywood directors and producers see the LGBTQ+ population as feminine men trying to hit on straight men. Anything beyond that is an unexplored territory.
The LGBTQ+ population is reduced to punch lines and is projected in the inferior-superior standard that has been built by society. Queer people are not comic reliefs! Asking for a role model worthy character is too much to ask right now. What is desirable is the adequate representation of queer people.
It is interesting how movies like ‘Aligarh’, ‘Fire’, ‘My Brother Nikhil’, and ‘LOEV’ become art films, rather than mainstream films. Is it the lack of audience or the lack of marketing, one needs to ask themselves. Another issue with queer cinema in India is its tragic ends. While heterosexual children are brought up on extremely dubious and exaggerated hopes of ‘true love’, queer children are brought up on extremely sad movies.
Up until the soon-to-be-released film ‘Evening Shadows’, realistic queer movie shave been banned or protested against. Why? The censor board cites ‘glorifying homosexuality’, ‘accentuation of vital parts’ of the male body, the portrayal of Hinduism in a ’derogatory manner’ as reasons. Ironically, the censor board goes blind when movies ‘glorify’ heterosexuality and accentuate the ‘vital parts’ of the female body. We are guessing that the ideals of ‘Hinduism’ must allow it.
Realism in Bollywood is important. Not only do we need a realistic expectation of heterosexual love, but an introduction of authentic queer character facing real challenges, overcoming them, building families, and being happy the way they are. Movies on self-discovery are also vital to allow queer people to relate their self-discovery journeys and becoming comfortable with their identities.
Feature Image Credits: Netflix