With the Pride month having kick-started already and the first weekend approaching, we bring to you a list of 25 Indian films on the LGBTQIA+ community cutting across languages and regions.
Super Deluxe (Tamil) (2019) (Netflix)
The Thiagarajan Kumararaja directorial, as per IMDb, is about “an unfaithful newly-wed wife, an estranged father, a priest and an angry son who suddenly find themselves in the most unexpected predicaments, each poised to experience their destiny, all on one fateful day.” Actor Vijay Sethupathi plays the role of a trans woman who is marginalised and harassed.
Do Paise Ki Dhoop, Chaar aane Ki Baarish (Hindi) (2009) (Netflix)
Directed by actor, writer, and director Deepti Naval, the film is a take on what constitutes a family. Featuring actors Manisha Koirala, Rajit Kapoor, Sanaj Naval, and others, it revolves around a sex-worker who hires a gay lyricist (rendered homeless by his partner) to take care of her teenage son with disabilities.
Fire (Hindi/English) (1996) (YouTube)
The first film in Deepa Mehta’s Elements Trilogy, Fire is an Indo-Canadian erotic drama that revolves around two women, played by Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das, neglected by their husbands, who find love and solace in one another. It was succeeded by the independent films Earth (1998) and Water (2005).
Margarita with a Straw (Hindi/English) (2014) (Netflix)
Featuring Kalki Koechlin, Sayani Gupta, Revathi, William Moseley and others, Margarita with a Straw is about a young woman with cerebral palsy, played by Koechlin, who discovers her sexual desires and sexual orientation after meeting with a visually-impaired Pakistani girl Khanum, and an American student Jared. It is directed by Shonali Bose and Nilesh Maniyar.
Evening Shadows (Hindi) (2018) (Netflix)
Directed by Sridhar Rangayan and featuring actors Mona Ambegaonkar, Ananth Narayan, Mahadevan, Devansh Doshi, and others, the film is a universal mother-son story that sees a gay young man coming out to his mother and the consequent twists their bond takes.
LOEV (Hindi) (2015) (Netflix)
Beginning with the title, a misspelling of LOVE, the Sudhanshu Saria directorial shows the journey from what love is and what it means to two people, in this case, two young men, after their relationship takes sudden turn during a weekend trip.
Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan (Hindi) (2020) (Amazon Prime Video)
The Ayushmann Khurrana and Jitendra Kumar-starrer is a comic take on the romantic relationship between two men – Kartik (Khurrana) and Aman (Kumar). It is the sequel to the 2017 film Shubh Mangal Saavdhan.
Timeout (Hindi) (2015) (Netflix)
As per Netflix’s synopsis, the film revolves around a teen who is raised in the privileged bubble of the Delhi’s elite, and is compelled to question his outlook on life and love when his older brother comes out as a gay. It features actors Chirag Malhotra, Pranay Pachauri, and others, and is directed by Rikhil Bahadur.
Aalorukkam (Malayalam) (2018) (Netflix)
Directed by VC Abhilash, the story revolves around Pappu Pisharadi, an aging man, who is on a constant hunt for his son, who left him 16 years back. It is then that two people help him. It features actors Indrans, Sreekanth menon, Shaji AJ, and others.
Unfreedom (Hindi) (2014) (Netflix)
Directed by Raj Amit Kumar and featuring actors Adil Hussain, Victor Banerjee, Preeti Gupta, and others, the film takes a partial look at sexual orientation after a lesbian daughter fights against an arranged marriage in India. It runs parallel to the story of a religious fundamentalist targeting an anti-extremist scholar in New York.
Aligarh (Hindi) (2015) (Zee5)
Featuring Manoj Bajpayee as a gay professor at the Aligarh Muslim University whose life is turned upside-down when his sexual orientation becomes public, the film is inspired from a true story. The Hansal Mehta directorial featuring Rajkummar Rao, Ashish Vidyarthi and others, challenges Section 377 of the IPC which criminalised same-sex relationships.
Vanjagar Ulagam (Tamil) (2018) (Netflix)
As per Netflix’s synopsis, the film revolves around Shyam who wakes to discover he is suspected in a murder that one journalist believes may have ties to a mysterious gangster. Directed by Manoj Bheeda, it features actors Guru Somasundaram, Cibi Bhuvana Chandran, Vishagan Vanangamudi, and others. Somasundaram plays the gay gangster (Sampath aka Durai Raj) whose sexual orientation is unknown to the underworld that he is a part of.
Aruvi (Tamil) (2017) (Amazon Prime Video)
Featuring Aditi Balan and directed by Arun Prabhu, Aruvi is the story of a girl trying to challenge a consumerist and misogynistic society. How she tackles her problems forms the crux of the story. While the story primarily revolves around Balan’s character who is HIV positive and is consequently ostracised, it also touches upon the life of her friend Emily, a trans woman (played by trans actor Anjali Varadhan).
Hum Bhi Akele Tum Bhi Akele (Hindi) (2019) (Disney+ Hotstar)
Featuring Zareen Khan, Anshuman Jha, Gurfateh Pirzada and others, the film revolves around two friends, a gay man and a lesbian, who go on a road trip and “discover the love in their friendship”, as per IMDb.
Moothon (Malayalam) (2019) (ZEE5)
The Geetu Moandas directorial which means ‘The Elder One’ features Nivin Pauly, Roshan Mathew, Sobhita Dhulipala, Shashank Arora, and others. It revolves around Akbar, played by Pauly, a gangster. It also throws light on the same-sex relationship between the characters played by Pauly and Mathew and the cost they pay due to being stereotyped.
Chitrangada: The Crowning Wish (Bengali) (2012) (Amazon Prime Video, Hoichoi)
Written, directed by, and starring Rituparno Ghosh, the film is loosely based on Rabindranath Tagore’s play Chitrangada. Ghosh plays a theatre artist and a choreographer who struggles with their gender identity and considers a gender-reassignment surgery. It features other actors like Jisshu U Sengupta, Raima Sen, Anjan Dutt, and Anashua Majumdar.
Thangam- Paava Kadhaigal (Tamil) (2021) (Netflix)
The segment directed by Sudha Kongara in the Tamil anthology film Paava Kadhaigal, depicts the transphobic behaviour of a village in rural Tamil Nadu and the treatment they mete out to a young trans woman, played by Kalidas Jayaram, who is ousted from the village because she helps her sister and best friend elope.
Geeli Pucchi- Ajeeb Daastaans (Hindi) (2021) (Netflix)
Neeraj Ghaywan’s segment in the anthology film is a take on sexuality and gender from a caste perspective. Actors Konkona Sen Sharma and Aditi Rao Hydari play two employees at a factory. While Sharma is relegated to a lower job profile despite being a degree-holder, Hydari is given the better job owing to her caste.
Ajeeb Dastan Hai Yeh- Bombay Talkies (Hindi) (2013) (Netflix)
Karan Johar’s segment from the anthology film Bombay Talkies, that was aimed at showcasing the influence of cinema on society, revolves around an unhappy couple, played by Randeep Hooda and Rani Mukherjee, whose lives take a turn after Hooda’s character comes out as a gay.
My Son is Gay (Tamil) (2017) (YouTube)
The Lokesh Kumar directorial “showcases the dark reality of acceptance prevailing in our society”, as per IMDb. It revolves around Lakshmi, a school principal, who shares a great bond with her son, Varun, until he comes out as gay. They later get separated and Lakshmi decides to find her lost son. It features actors Anupama Kumar, Ashwinjith, Abishek Joseph George, and others.
Miss Man (Bengali) (2019) (Movie Saints)
A short film directed by Tathagata Ghosh, Miss Man is about a trans woman from rural Bengal who comes to Kolkata for a sex-reassignment surgery. The film has travelled across borders and received international recognition at several film festivals, including the 34th BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival, 29th Oslo/Fusion International Film Festival, 24th LesGaiCineMad, Madrid International LGBTI Film Festival, and the 24th Cheries-Cheris Festival, to name a few.
Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (Hindi) (2019) (Netflix)
Featuring Sonam Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, and Rajkummar Rao, the film is a lesbian love story that attempts at breaking out of the traditional and conservative family fold. It is directed by Shelly Chopra Dhar.
Memories in March (Bengali) (2010) (Amazon Prime Video, Hoichoi)
Directed by Sanjoy Nag and written by Rituparno Ghosh, the film revolves around a mother, played by Deepti Naval, who gets to know more about her deceased son’s life post his death, including his sexual orientation.
My Brother…Nikhil (Hindi) (2005) (Disney+ Hotstar)
Directed by Onir, who is gay himself, the film is based on the life of Dominic D’Souza, a swimming champion in Goa who was ousted from the team and his family after he tested positive for HIV/AIDS. It was one of the first mainstream films to focus on same-sex relationships and features actors Juhi Chawla, Sanjay Suri, Purab Kohli, and others.
Nagarkirtan (Bengali) (2017) (YouTube, Hoichoi)
Directed by Kaushik Ganguly, Nagarkirtan traces the difficulties faced by transgender people, ranging from begging at traffic signals, to getting a sex-reassignment surgery. The film is a love story between a trans woman and a flute player. The film won four National Awards and features actors Riddhi Sen and Ritwick Chakraborty.