Ten Bollywood takes on homosexuality

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March 3, 2016

New Delhi: Last week’s release Aligarh was the rare Bollywood film dealing with homosexuality that turned out both sensitive and intelligent.

Manoj Bajpayee in a still from Aligarh

March 3, 2016

New Delhi: Last week’s release Aligarh was the rare Bollywood film dealing with homosexuality that turned out both sensitive and intelligent.

Manoj Bajpayee in a still from Aligarh

Indian films focusing on the issue may be few but they span all genres, and more often than not end up making a mockery of the people they talk about with their loud, outlandish and offensive interpretations.

Here are 10 Bollywood takes on homosexuality.

1. Fire (1996): Deepa Mehta’s path-breaking Indo-Canadian drama was one of the first mainstream films to explicitly depict homosexual relations. The film, starring Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das, was vehemently opposed by right-wing activists in the country and had several shows disrupted but was eventually re-released without cuts.

2. Girlfriend (2004): One of the rare Indian films focused on lesbian love, director Karan Razdan’s film, featuring Ishaa Koppikar and Amrita Arora, was mostly deemed inappropriate and sleazy by Indian audiences. It made slightly over 2 crore in box office collections.

3. My Brother…Nikhil (2005): The film, directed by Onir, was one of the first Indian films to address the need for AIDS awareness from the eyes of a homosexual swimmer. Starring Sanjay Suri and Juhi Chawla, the critically acclaimed feature only managed 1.20 crore at the box office despite rave reviews.

4. Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd (2007): Reema Kagti’s directorial debut brought together six couples travelling together and followed separate stories of each couple. One of the stories featured an exuberant wife (Ameesha Patel) on a honeymoon with her reticent husband (Karan Khanna), who realizes he has developed feelings for another male tourist in their group. The film earned about 13 crore at the box office.

5. Fashion (2008): Madhur Bhandarkar’s hard-hitting take on the fashion world may have been a woman-centric film but it didn’t miss out on a strong homosexual tale to articulate the politics of the industry. Television actor Samir Soni, as a gay designer, played perfect foil to protagonists Priyanka Chopra and Kangana Ranaut. The film made more than 26 crore in collections.

6. Dostana (2008): Filmmaker Tarun Mansukhani’s Dostana was a loud, flamboyant tale of two men pretending to be gay but actually in love with the same woman. Abhishek Bachchan and John Abraham played suitors to leading lady Priyanka Chopra in the movie that ended up with collections of 22 crore.

7. Dunno Y…Na Jaane Kyon (2010): Premiered at the first mainstream gay film festival in India held in Mumbai, the Sanjay Sharma-directed film had actors Kapil Sharma and Yuvraaj Parashar in lead roles. Despite touring the festival circuit, the film made no impact with collections of less than 1 crore.

8. I Am (2010): Omar, one of the stories in Onir’s crowd-sourced anthology, was based on gay rights and featured Rahul Bose along with Arjun Mathur. Despite a release in multiple languages, including Hindi, English, Kannada, Marathi, Bengali and Kashmiri, the film remained limited in its reach, appealing only to discerning audiences.

9. Bombay Talkies (2013): In this anthology dedicated to 100 years of Indian cinema, filmmaker Karan Johar directed a segment called Ajeeb Daastaan Hai Yeh, starring Randeep Hooda and Saqib Saleem as men who discover their sexual orientation late in life. Rani Mukerji plays Hooda’s distraught wife. Despite the star presence both behind and in front of the camera, the film barely made 8 crore at the box office.

10. Time Out (2015): Viacom18 Motion Pictures produced the teenage film on two brothers whose lives alter drastically when the older boy’s sexual orientation is discovered. An unknown director (Rikhil Bahadur) and fresh faces in the cast helped this film earn just a couple of lakhs.


Courtesy: Live Mint (All figures have been sourced from movie websites Bollywood Hungama and IBOS Network.)