Bollywood films are shining light on LGBTQ community NOW, but didn't they stereotype it in the first place?

Unfortunately, Bollywood cannot boast of a brilliant track record when it comes to showing the LGBT community under a positive light.
Discussion,LGBT,Section 377Bollywood films are shining light on LGBTQ community NOW, but didn't they stereotype it in the first place?
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Over the years, Bollywood has put many societal issues under the spotlight. Be it caste discrimination or gender discrimination, scores of films have hit the right spot. Unfortunately, Bollywood cannot boast of a brilliant track record when it comes to showing the LGBT community under a positive light. The historic Section 377 ruling by the Supreme Court of India came in 2018 but long before that Bollywood portrayed characters based on the LGBT community.

Well, was Bollywood good enough at it? Well, not really. In a process to show varied characters in films, many filmmakers over the years have stereotyped lesbians, transgenders and gays. Take for example a character like Rishi Kapoor's in Student Of The Year. Playing the role of a headmaster in an upscale Indian school, Kapoor's character gestures were not just over the top but merely used to incite laughter. Another actor who has often played such roles was actress Bobby Darling who came out as a transwoman.

While the representation Darling got in Bollywood is noteworthy, her characters in films like Kya Kool Hai Hum and Apna Sapna Money Money is far from an empowering one. Dostana was another such example. While many appreciated Karan Johar for bringing gay relationships into mainstream cinema, it is important to note that not every gay man dresses out loud or has similar body language. Many simply look just like and you and me.    

Activists for years have been longing for positive representation of the LGBTQ community. It is only in recent years that poignant films have been made to drive home the message of same-sex marriage or leave homophobia aside and view love as love and not gender-based.

One of the first few films to do that was My Brother..Nikhil back in 2005. The film which starred Sanjay Suri and Purab Kohli came at a time when gay relationships did not make it to the newspapers and talking about HIV/Aids was still considered a taboo. Other films in recent times who seemed to have LGBTQ at the centre of its plot are Sonam Kapoor starrer Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga and Manoj Bajpayee's Aligarh. The latest one to this list will hopefully be Ayushmann Khurrana's Shubh Mangal Zyada Savdhaan which shows the actor in love with a guy. Given Ayushmann's record of delivering hits, we truly hope this movie does not just paint a hazy picture of homophobia.

Shining light on rampant homophobia that is still largely prevalent in India, these films have struck a chord with the audience and are pushing the dialogue to normalise same-sex relationships. It is now more than ever that India, a country which largely sees in the red, needs films like these. The historic judgement by the Supreme Court which decriminalised homosexuality is only the beginning. We sincerely hope that filmmakers, writer, actors and producers take it upon themselves to represent the LGBTQ community in important films and scripts and not merely use them as a prop for laughs.  

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