Playing it with ‘pride’
With more and more mainstream Bollywood actors essaying queer roles, we hope that LGBTQ+ characters will not be misinterpreted and stereotyped
While it is true that Bollywood has depicted LGBTQ+ characters in ridiculous ways for decades — we did have some offbeat portrayals in parallel cinema. And now the numbers are increasing.
Here’s a list of actors who have portrayed gay characters in films in recent times:
Akshay Kumar: Although it was a cameo in Dhishoom, Khiladi Kumar took the audience by surprise when he played a homosexual without making it look like a caricature. In the film, he plays a gangster who rides a sports water bike and helps Varun Dhawan and John Abraham, the two cops in the film, solve a case. It is a delight watching our macho Akshay play a gay man with such conviction and ease.
Manoj Bajpai: Manoj’s portrayal of homosexual professor Dr Srinivas Ramchandra Siras in Hansal Mehta’s Aligarh was remarkable. The film which showcased the struggles of being a gay man and the biases he faces, was widely appreciated by critics and viewers alike. Manoj plays the late Dr Siras with utmost honesty.
Fawad Khan: Fawad Khan was natural and spontaneous as Rahul Kapoor, a gay man in Kapoor & Sons, and he completely justifies the role. The actor once said, “Even if someone plays a character like that, why will he or she become an outcast? Give it some years, and things will become normal.” And we can’t agree more.
Sonam Kapoor Ahuja: Sonam’s Ek Ladki Ko Dekha to Aisa Laga is different and refreshing — it is Bollywood’s first film featuring a lesbian romance with big stars in lead roles. A small-town love story, the film intends to normalise gay lives and struggles, and shows how love doesn’t know any gender.
Kalki Koechlin: Helmed by Shonali Bose, Margarita With a Straw was praised for focusing on a love story of two women and for dealing with disability and homosexuality with sensitivity and respect. Kalki plays Laila, a young woman with cerebral palsy who she falls for a blind woman named Khanum (Sayani Gupta). The film does justice to the feelings and psyche of women who are in a same-sex relationship, and Kalki wins your heart with her flawless performance.
Ranveer Singh and Jim Sarbh: Ranveer, who is seeing sporting androgynous fashion, played Alauddin Khilji — the ruthless ruler known to be bisexual and was romantically involved with Malik Kafur (played by Jim Sarbh) in the film Padmaavat. Kafur is shown as both brave and sensitive who would go to any extent to make Khilji happy because he loved him immensely. Both Khilji and Kafur had depths in their characters. Although the film didn’t show them kissing or making love to each other, you cannot miss their silent love story amidst all the drama and grandeur in this SLB magnum opus.