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Top 3 Best Queer Indian Movies That Everyone Should Watch

As a queer person, I love looking for queer movies. I grew up In the Bronx, and my parents immigrated from India to give my sibling and me a better life. I grew up watching Bollywood movies, From the classics to Mera Naam Joker, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Om Shanti Om to newer films like Gangubai Katiawadi and Badhaii Do.

As I grew up, I started to discover my sexuality and gender identity, and while on that journey, I searched high and low to find queer Indian/Bollywood movies. I have watched all queer Bollywood movies out there, no matter how small or big they were. So, without further ado, let’s dive into this blog and learn some of the best queer Indian movies that everyone should watch.

Background on Queer Cinema

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The image of homosexuality and queerness in cinema has evolved since the 1960s, when the LGBT theme, long censored, began to develop. The time of La Cage aux Folles and Pédale douce, which shared an extravagant, mannered, and reductive portrait of the queer community, is over. 

No, queer people are not depraved sex addicts, as depicted in the 1933 silent short film Lot in Sodom. However, it was not until Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain in 2006 that homosexuality became democratized and integrated into the mores. Today, cinema tends to be more truthful and respectful. 

If the representation of queer couples seems to be more common in TV series today, it has not always been the case. Prior to the 1980s, displaying sexual orientation, especially homosexuality and queerness, in a TV series was not a popular choice for society and viewers.

Except for representing a population considered at the time as marginal, unbalanced, sick, or asocial, same-sex love relationships were not put forward. The subject is still taboo. Everything must remain suggested or ambiguous rather than clearly expressed.

Fortunately, the representation on the screen of lesbian or gay relationships has evolved and been more and more present since the 1990s. Today we have the opportunity to discover some LGBTQIA+ series on Netflix that put forward interesting, deep, and less and less caricatured roles of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or trans characters.

1. Badhaai Do

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This one is the latest queer Bollywood movie on our list, and it came out this year. If you have two and a half hours to spare, stream it on Netflix, grab a box of tissue because this movie will make you feel all the feels, and cry like a baby.

The story revolves around Sumi (portrayed by Bhumi Pednekar), a high-school PE teacher, and Shardul (played by Rajkummar Rao), a police officer. Both of them are queer and still closeted to their family and decide to get married to get their parents off their backs. Words can’t do this movie justice, and you have to watch it.

This movie breaks down so many stereotypes and is one of those movies that will go down in history as one of the best queer movies. Watch how Sumi and Shardul navigate their sexuality and find happiness in their fake marriage and how this all goes down to hell. Will their families accept them? Will they find their happily ever after? Will they ever be happy? You have to watch the movie to find out.

Raj Bansal, industry expert, says, “I am really impressed with the Badhaai Do makers’ decision to release the film on February 11, at a time when others weren’t ready to take the same call. It was a brave and bold decision and it has paid dividends.”

He further elaborates that “the film is doing very well, and the release date being close to Valentine’s Day was an added impetus. The film’s already collected ’11 crore plus in five days, even with the restrictions in most of the states. It was a master strategy indeed.” 

2. Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga

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This is another mainstream movie on our list, and you can also stream it on Netflix. It features some pretty big Bollywood stars like Sonam Kapoor as Sweety Chaudhary and Anil Kapoor as Balbir Chaudhry. The real-life father-daughter duo plays their roles to the max, and their relationship will make you cry.

As you might have guessed, Sonam isn’t straight and is in love with another woman (Kuhu, played by Regina Cassandra). As you can imagine, Sweety’s Punjabi family doesn’t take the news well, and it is their journey towards acceptance. The final 10 minutes of the movie will make you cry tears of joy.

3. Kapoor and Sons

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This is one of my favorite movies out there because it reminds me of my crazy dysfunctional desi family. Like my family, Kapoor’s family is constantly at each other’s throats, but they deeply love each other, and you can see that in the way they care for each other.

The story follows the 2 Kapoor sons: Rahul (portrayed by Fawad Khan) and Arjun (played by Sidharth Malhotra), who can’t get along. Arjun falls for a girl who, in turn, falls for Rahul, creating a further rift in their relationship.

While using Rahul’s computer, Sunita Kapoor (played by the legend Patna Pathak Shah) discovers that her son is queer by seeing pictures of him and his partner on vacation. You can see where this is going if you have a conservative and traditional desi mom.

Fawad Khan had this to say about this specific role “Even if someone plays a character like that, why will he or she become an outcast? Give it some years, and things will become normal. In the future, everyone who gets worried about these things (homosexuality) will learn to accept them. If someone is a certain way, he or she just is.”

Sound off in the comments section below and tell us what you want to read next and if you want to read more about queer movie recommendations.

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3 Reasons Why You Should Watch Your Name Engraved Herein!

Your Name Engraved Herein is an award-winning Taiwanese movie that was released in September 2020 in Taiwan and was globally released in December 2020. It holds the record for the most-liked Queer Taiwanese movie in 2020 and was a smash hit at the box office with NT$100 million. It will soon be queer a cult classic like Brokeback Mountain and Call me by your name. If you are bored of old cliché and tropes abundant in Hollywood, I recommend this movie.

Synopsis

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Your Name Engraved Herein is rich with the political history of Taiwan with the universal message that love is love. Set in 1980’s Taiwan, this movie takes place after martial law has been removed. It follows the lives of two male students, Chang Jia-han or A-han (played by Edward Chen) and Bo Te or Birdy (portrayed by Tseng Jing-Hua), how they fall in love, deals with family, and societal pressure and homophobia. Your Name Engraved Herein takes place in a Catholic school where our protagonists become quick friends and develop more intense feelings for each other.

Despite their mutual pinning, the pair hesitate to act upon their attraction because of their religious background and societal backdrop that plague queer people in the movie. The introduction of a co-ed system after the death of President Ching-Kuo creates tension in their dynamic. Plagued by conflict and societal exceptions, the pair has to face the world together or break their relationship to fit in. Stream the movie on Netflix to see their story blossom, be prepared for the waterworks because this movie will ruin you emotionally.

Inspiration

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Spoilers warning for the rest of this post. The story is inspired by the life and relationship of the director, Patrick Liu. He tells Time Magazine that 80% of A-han’s experience is based on his real-life experience; the movie is supposed to be about his first love and its trial and tribulations. He didn’t intend to create a queer movie; it just so happened that his first love was a boy falling in love with another boy. Liu wanted to create something more intimate with Your Name Engraved Herein, and he bore his heart and soul in the script, and the brilliant performance of the actors highlighted this.

Liu teamed up with one of his old classmates, Arthur Chu, who produced the movie and was familiar with Liu’s first love. The story is, in essence, what happened to Liu with some dramatization because it was for the big screen. Central plot points like the love triangle and confiding to the school priest really happened, which makes the fantastic and unforgettable of the film. It shows us raw human interactions.

Why the movie is so great

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The movie starts with a quote from the song of Solomon 8:7- “many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.” This sets into motion the movie’s driving force: the tension between one’s faith and sexuality. Set in one of the few countries in Asia that recognize same-sex marriage, the film doesn’t show us that but instead shows us a time during which being gay was frowned upon and could even land you in jail.

A-man and Birdy have a natural chemistry on screen, and you want them to end up together. However, the movie ends ambiguously after a time skip of 20 years where our protagonists are finally reunited for the death of Father Oliver. This rekindles their old romance, but we don’t get a definitive answer if they end up together or not. It is quite refreshing because we don’t always see enough movies with realistic endings where characters are allowed to be human beings and have a realistic ending.

The characters are not exceptionally written and are also well-rounded figures, and this is emphasized by the actors’ craft. One of the most emotionally charged moments of the film is when A-han confides with Father Oliver about his relationship with Birdy. The two have a lengthy conversation about God, religion, love, sexuality, and lust. One of the most piercing scenes is when A-han uses Bible verses to show how his queerness is normal:

“Didn’t He say, “Whoever believes in Him shall have eternal life”?… Didn’t He say, “Ask and it shall be given to you? Seek, and you shall find. Knock, and the door shall be opened”? I’ve been knocking so hard. Why doesn’t He hear it?”

Word enough can’t do this scene justice; you have to watch it to feel the emotions. It speaks about the queer experience in conservative Asian society, which I was part of as a first-generation Indian kid who immigrated from Chennai to New York; generational trauma and homophobia are alive and well in today’s society. I’m proof of that because my parents disowned me after I came out. This is why this film resonates so much with. Let’s not forget about the beautiful score of Your Name Engraved Herein, one of them is even sung by Edward Chen.

Visit the locations where the film was shot.

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Your Name Engraved Herein is famous bl (boys love) movie in 2020 is one of those beautifully filmed movies and evokes the painful reality of being queer in a religious and conservative country. The first part of the movie, which takes place as martial law, ends in the country in 1987, and the latter part of the movie, when the time skip happens, takes place in Quebec, Canada. The story follows two students, A-han (Edward Chen) and Birdy (Tseng Jing-Hua), who they fall in love with and society’s attitude towards queer people. Another marvelous quote from Your Name Engraved Herein is from a conversation between A-han and father Oliver. This is where our protagonist says:

“So you can like girls, but I can’t like boys?

Is your love bigger than the love I give?

Tell me. What’s the difference between your love and mine? Tell me the difference!”

If you are some who identities as queer and trans and grew up religious, then this quote should resonate deeply with you. This is a very raw and emotional movie that is emphasized by our protagonist’s actions. If you want to visit the country and where the film was shot, then you can visit the school on which the school of the film was based, which is the Viator catholic high school.

Watch Your Name Engraved Herein and sound off in the comments below to tell us if you loved this movie as much as I did. I’d like to end this post from Patrick Liu, who tells us that:

“[We] are allowed to love, [we] are not guilty” and hope that with the international release of the movie, we’ll see more queer movies that explore the life and journey of different people and their queerness.