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
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
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
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
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.