There was a time in Bollywood where gay characters were written in the scripts to only be treated as humour elements. But now the time has changed and so has the law! The recent years has witnessed path-breaking Bollywood LGBTQ movies where artists portrayed LGBTQ roles with earnest interests.
Here is a list of Bollywood LGTBQ movies and the actors who showed their craftsmanship by admirably playing LGBT roles.
1. Manoj Bajpai in ‘Aligarh’
Bajpai played a homosexual professor
In this movie, Manoj Bajpai’s role is based on the life of Ramchandra Siras who was an Indian linguist and author. Bajpai’s character is of a homosexual professor who gets caught up in a sting operation carried out to determine his sexual orientation and fosters a special bond with the journalist who covers his story. The film received a standing ovation at its world premiere and Bajpai won critical acclaim for his performance. He also won the Dadasaheb Phalke award for the same.
2. Fawad Khan in ‘Kapoor & Sons’
Fawad Khan left a million girls were heartbroken after the climax.
The film is about a dysfunctional family where two estranged brothers return to their folks after their grandfather suffers a cardiac arrest and they come face to face to their parents collapsing marriage. Rahul Kapoor (played by Fawad Khan) is a homosexual but keeps the truth guarded until he comes out of the closet at the end of the story. Fawad’s performance was largely applauded by the audience.
3. Shahana Goswami in ‘Heroine’
Small role, big impact!
Shahana plays Promita Roy, a bisexual actress who takes great pride in her sexual orientation and is comfortable with it. A hesitant Mahi Arora (played by Kareena Kapoor) and Promita can be seen getting intimate in the film. Although Shahana’s character has small screen time in the movie, her role is significant and impactful.
4. Randeep Hooda & Saqib Saleem in ‘Bombay Talkies’
The duo that made news!
Both actors play homosexual characters in the movie. Randeep Hooda’s character named Dev is a married man in a complex situation and hasn’t come out of the closet. Saqib’s character Avinash has left his parents house in distress because they are ashamed of his sexuality and confuse him for a eunuch. Both actors even have a kissing scene in the film which became quite the talking point for some time. Their earnest performances were hugely appreciated by everyone.
5. Kalki Koechlin in ‘Margarita with a Straw’
Kalki’s cutting edge performance!
Kalki plays the role of Laila who is a teenager with cerebral palsy which is a movement disorder. She falls in love with a young activist named Khanum who is a blind girl with an independent personality. Laila gets confused about her sexual orientation as she is also attracted to a man named Jared. Kalki’s portrayal of a bisexual woman in the movie is not just praiseworthy but also shows her willingness as an artist. The sex scenes were also applauded for not being coy or uncanny.
6. Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das in ‘Fire’
When powerhouse performers come together.
Veteran actor Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das were one of the firsts to play LGBT roles back in 1996. Five times National Award-winning actress-Azmi portrayed the character of Radha and Actor-Director Nandita Das played the role of her sister-in-law Sita in Deepa Mehta’s Elements trilogy. Both the characters in the film are deserted by their husbands and they fall in love with each other. These were path-breaking roles in the history of Indian Cinema as back then merely speaking about LGBT community was considered a taboo. The brilliant performances of the actresses were internationally acclaimed.
7. Purab Kohli & Sanjay Suri in ‘My Brother… Nikhil’
So effortless that the two actors seemed like just another couple!
Sanjay Suri plays the role of Nikhil Kapoor who is a closeted gay man and state swimming champion who gets diagnosed with HIV. Following which his parents throw him out of the house and he is kicked out of his swimming team as well. His friends also desert him and move away. Purab Kohli plays the role of Nigel (Nikhil’s boyfriend) who along with Nikhil’s sister Anamika (played by Juhi Chawla) and her boyfriend are the ones to support him in his crisis. The film is based on the story of Domini d’ Souza who was an Indian AIDS activist. The film through Nikhil’s character meticulously portrays the struggles of being an HIV patient and gay. Since the movie was filmed at a time when AIDS awareness was significantly low in the country, it helped spark up some changes. The performances were appreciated worldwide by the audience.
8. Madhuri Dixit and Huma Qureshi in ‘Dedh Ishqiya’
Madhuri & Hama come together for a hilarious Bollywood black comedy
One of the most elegantly shown lesbian love stories in Bollywood, Madhuri Dixit as ‘Begum Para’ and Huma Qureshi as ‘Muniya’ steal the show in Dedh Ishqiya – the sequel of Ishqiya (2010). Also starring Arshad Warsi and Naseeruddin Shah, this movie was a commercial success and received highly positive reviews for its story, performances, writing and great direction.
9. Sonam Kapoor in ‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga’
Sonam Kapoor aces the role of ‘Sweety Chaudhary’, a closet lesbian
”Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga’ is a coming-of-age romantic comedy-drama about Sweety Chaudhary (played by Sonam Kapoo), a closeted lesbian from a conservative and traditional Punjabi family. This movie deivers entertainment while subtly giving the message of the change needed in the society’s outlook towards same sex couples. This movie also marks the reunion of one the Bollywood’s most popular on-screen couples – Anil Kapoor & Juhi Chawla after 11 years.
10. Ayushmann Khurrana in ‘Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan’
The story of an unapologetic Gay couple in a conservative society
Ayushmann Khurrana’s Shubh Mangal Zyaada Saavdhan releasing on Feb 21, 2020 promises to be another great Bollywood LGBT movie that would entertain the audience while showing the struggles of a gay couple in a conservative society.
It is always commendable to see an actor’s willingness to portray challenging characters. These characters were so subtle and mature that they tackled homosexuality the way it deserves to be tackled. Instead of reducing LGBT roles to ugly jokes and aberration, these roles in Bollywood LGBTQ movies were an obvious signal that our actors won’t turn their backs at distinctive roles. We hope that we get to see many more of such sincere performances in future as well!