These Indian queer characters educate, inspire and make us love their character arcs.
Some onscreen characters move you with their stories and then there are those who stay with you forever like these Indian queer characters that run high on human value points. They've made such a special place in our hearts that we can't help but take inspiration from them in more ways than one. Yes we all have struggles but to be not accepted for who you are is pretty damn tough. And with their character arcs, these queer characters from India make sure that the representation of the community is not restricted to just one aspect of being queer.
There are many characters in shows and films over the years that have not only represented but brought a massive change to the LGBTQIA+ community but we rarely found these in Indian cinema. Thankfully, today there's more representation than before and the community isn't being portrayed as the butt of all jokes. Even though there's still a long way to go, this representation helps so many people feel seen and safe by watching someone look like them onscreen, someone who has had similar struggles too. While there are many Indian queer characters today, here are some who left a lasting impression on us. Why? Because they are not just queer but also human!
Check them out!
Dhruv and Faruq - Class
Adapted from the Spanish show, Elite, Class gave us Dhruv and Faruq, who while being gay also represented how class indifference and religion comes into play with homosexuality. For Dhruv, the world is harsh while he deals with figuring out his sexuality and coming out. But for Faruq, as a gay Muslim, the world is hard on him for both, his religion and his sexuality.
Shardul and Sumi - Badhaai Do
By giving us Rajkumar Rao as Shardul, a gay police officer, and Bhumi Pednekar as Sumi, a lesbian sports teacher, Badhaai Do took a huge step forward in representing the queer community by showing them as main leads instead of a funny side character. Shardul and Sumi get into a fake marriage to live in this society, just so they can be themselves behind closed doors as their families and this society won't understand.
Manickam - Super Deluxe
Vijay Sethupathi as a trans woman is highly lauded for his acting in this film. But more than that, by being Manickam, he gave space to a person in a film who is often non-existent or negligent at best by people. Manickam also keeps a valuable point of being a mother as a trans woman because motherhood is not defined by sexuality. The best part is that Super Deluxe doesn't just revolve around one person, rather society at large, making Manickam a part of it.
Prof Ramchandra Siras - Aligarh
Prof Siras faces exclusion, backlash, and mobbing and so he becomes lonely which leads to his death. What caused this? His video of having a sexual relationship with another man gets leaked. With this entire arc, the film very subtly and diligently focuses on how our biases and actions based on stereotypes affect people drastically. But more than anything, based on Aligarh Muslim University's Prof. Ramchandra Siras' real-life story, the film taught us how cruel society can be to homosexuals without glorifying their struggles. Manoj Bajpayee and Rajkumar Rao both were lauded for their acting.
Laila Kapoor - Margarita With a Straw
Laila, played exceptionally by Kalki Koechlin, is battling with cerebral palsy and her mother takes care of her entirely. But this does not stop her from falling in love with a blind girl and getting in touch with the sexual desire inside of her. And with her character exploring love and desire, the film represents how having sexual desire is not restricted to people and extends to specially-abled people as well. And the same goes for sexuality, anybody can be queer!
Bharti Mandal - Geeli Pucchi (Ajeeb Dastaans)
Konkana Sen's talented portrayal of Bharti tells you how caste is not just for cishets to deal with! Being a Dalit woman dealing already with double discrimination, and add being a lesbian to that and this already makes it rather hard to live in this society! Nobody lets you live, forget about love but Bharti if anything understands the game well enough and plays it smartly.
Sita and Radha - Fire
Sita essayed brilliantly by Nandita Das is trapped in a loveless marriage with her husband who is dating his girlfriend. Similarly, her sister-in-law, Radha, adorned by Shabana Azmi suffers the same fate. Both of them stuck in their martial situations and monotonously doing household work find solace with each other which culminates into a love so tender and beautiful. They grow together and their refusal to be silenced and bogged down by society is awe-inspiring.
Rahul Kapoor - Kapoor and Sons
Fawad Khan as Rahul Kapoor broke all norms by being an extremely handsome-looking hero to play a queer character. He broke stereotypes by showing that gay men don't need to be feminine or look a certain way to feel the way they do; they can be however they choose to be. Sexuality is something you are born with and it's within you, not outside of you. With Rahul being the perfect older son, he proved that being gay doesn't make him any different towards his family, which sounds rather matter of fact to some but society doesn't understand that.
Dev and Avinash - Bombay Talkies
Dev played by Randeep Hooda and Avinash played by Saqib Saleem were probably one of the first commercial portrayals of being queer. Avinash has fought a long battle and ran away from home to be his true self as a homosexual. Hence, he cannot be with another person like Dev, who irrespective of being a homosexual cannot be his true self as he is stuck in the ideas of being a man conditioned into him by society and cannot leave his wife, even if he's in love with Avinash.
Karan Mehra - Made In Heaven
Karan Mehra performed skilfully by Arjun Mathur was the perfect insight into the lives of homosexuals who want to live their lives peacefully but society doesn't let them. His rift with his mother, his landlords, and the police if anything, speaks of the reality faced by many homosexuals.
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