Robin Kurian takes a deep dive into the complex and nuanced representation of queer characters in movies that caught our attention in 2023.
In my opinion, 2023 paved the way for new and realistic queer representations in cinema. The flame ignited by Shubh Mangal Jyada Savdhaan in Indian cinema served as a lantern for many storytellers to tell stories that were muted for years. This year we saw a stupendous debut by Sushant Divgikar as a drag queen in ‘Thank You For Coming’ as a redemption for so many misleading gay characters that ever existed in Bollywood previously. For the first time in many years, the theaters were echoing with applause rather than mockery for queers as ‘Pari Hoon Main’ aptly played and embraced the beauty of Drag Art and the queer community.
Although we had ‘Dilton’ from Archies who is still tiptoeing on the fence of rightful representation, I was delighted to see a wueer narrative being a part of a Zoya Akhtar movie because an influential director as herself doing so opens avenues for many more to do the same. But for me, regional cinema shines in terms of LGBTQIA depiction. Kaathal – The Core which also turned out to be my favourite film of the year, tells the story of a woman separating from her husband after 14 years of marriage because she believes he is gay. It was the ray of hope that the queer community hoped for. Malayalam superstar, Mammootty, setting an example by playing a gay character flawlessly without any inhibitions coming his way, was surreal to watch and as the film openly talked about struggles of a gay man in the most realistic way without any subtext it felt like we are finally voicing the suppressed feelings of many from the queer community.
I personally felt like I was heard for the first time and the makers made sure we empathize with them as I saw many leaving the theaters in tears including myself. Lastly, I would also like to include Joyland to this list as I got the opportunity to watch it this year. This cinematic wonder was a treat to watch, from spectacular acting performances to exceptional storytelling. This film ticks all the boxes on the list of queer portrayal. It brings me joy to conclude that the future is bright and I can't wait for more queer stories to be told and celebrated on-screen. As cinema is an impressionable medium, I hope that influence of ‘what we see’ would reflect in ‘how we see’ the queer community.
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Robin Kurian aka Romolika is a content creator known for his viral videos on the Internet, versatile acting skills, portraying various TV show characters and fluency in Urdu.
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