Homosexual Characters in Hindi Cinema have often been portrayed for comic relief or majorly been inconsequential to the central plot. However, after the iconic judgment of the Supreme Court on Section 377 yesterday, decriminalizing homosexuality, the nation has seen a new hope, or a new nation altogether. A nation where people can fearlessly flaunt their sexual preferences and freely meander without the shackles of being judged, mocked at or looked upon with disdain.
Amidst such a historic event for the country, let’s revisit some of the most iconic and well-portrayed homosexual characters in Hindi Cinema, characters who didn’t exist merely to elicit laughs or chuckles, but people who packed a powerful punch to the gut and left a lasting impression on our conscience. Have a look:-
1. Shabana Azmi & Nandita Das- Fire (1998)
Deepa Mehta’s bold, fearless and deeply disturbing film was denied a release owing to the subject it dealt with. In a country where films like Dostana and Kal Ho Naa Ho, where jibes are taken on homosexuals, are smoothly passed by the Censor Board, a well-intentioned film like this had to stay in the cans for over two years. It not only highlights the hypocrisy of the Board but their banal functioning as well. But it wasn’t just a story about sexual preferences, it was a tale about two lonely and unloved housewives who are drawn to each other and discover solace in their mutual loneliness.
2. Manoj Bajpayee- Aligarh (2016)
Based on a true story, Manoj Bajapyee starred as Professor Ramchandra Siras, who’s demeaned and shunned away and forced to be a pariah for his sexual preference. Bajpayee’s portrayal was both overwhelming and heart-breaking. It also depicted the brutal reality of our country’s backwardness. We continue to progress technologically but our mindsets are permanently stuck in the medieval times. It was a brave and jolting film that shall make a lot more impact after the historic judgment.
3. Fawad Khan- Kapoor & Sons (2016)
For a production house, that has perpetually hinged on evoking humor out of homosexual characters, Kapoor & Sons wasn’t only a refreshing breath of fresh air but also a milestone. Rahul Kapoor, played by Khan, under the fear and guilt of his true identity, lies to being in a relationship to his family. The shocking discovery of his inclination towards the same sex by his mother is followed not by a squeaky confrontation but a heartfelt acceptance by Rahul, which only adds more rouse to the already stirring scene. And credit must be given to Fawad Khan for taking up a role that not many actors in the industry would have had the courage to accept or portray, given the claustrophobic understanding of masculinity and machismo in Hindi Cinema.
4. Jim Sarbh- Padmaavat (2018)
We never saw Malik Kafur’s love for Alauddin Khilji but sensed it, with his demeanor and dialogues. In Binte Dil, both the characters are in a bath tub and enjoy each other’s company. It’s a song about love, but with a difference! And Sarbh was pitch-perfect as Khilji’s right man and loyalist. If only Rani Padmaavati’s haunting persona hadn’t high-jacked Khilji’s psyche, we would have witnessed another epic love story by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. this time between two men!
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