India opens up to same-sex relationships among women onscreen

Since the time Deepa Mehta’s Fire released till recent release of Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, Bollywood has come a long way as the Indian cinema is opening up to same sex relations among women

India opens up to same-sex relationships among women onscreen

Subhash K Jha

In February, it is time for the ladies to come out of the closet. Two major films and an engrossing web series feature women protagonists who are quite unapologetic about their sexual preference.

In the revolutionary mainstream Hindi film, Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, Sonam Kapoor plays the darling daughter of a protective father (Anil Kapoor) who reveals she loves a woman and will not marry one of the many suitors that her father brings for her.

In the Rangita Nandy-produced Amazon Prime webseries Four More Shots Please!, Veejay Bani plays Umang, a typical Punjabi kudi from a conservative family, who doesn’t know how to tell her parents about her sexual orientation. To avoid an ugly confrontation, she continues to “see” the prospective bridegrooms who are sent to her while secretly she is in love with her childhood best friend who is all set to marry Umang’s macho brother.

Rangita Nandy says, “This is a great time for women on screen. They can be who they want without fear of log kya kahenge. We wanted to put across a strong message in the series that a woman doesn’t have to be what social rules command her to be. Be yourself. And don’t feel apologetic about it. I think the web space is very liberating for the Indian woman.”

We Indians are very open-minded about all kinds of circumstances

The Oscar-nominated film, The Favourite, which also opens in February shows Queen Anne of England (played brilliantly by Olivia Colman) in the 17th century getting very up close and personal with her companion, played by Rachel Weisz.

Apparently, the Indian Censor Board has decided to cut none of the intimate scenes in The Favourite between Colman and Weisz.

Shabana Azmi, who was shown sharing a sexual relationship with Nandita Das in Deepa Mehta’s Fire, says the Censor Board’s liberal attitude should not surprise anyone. “The conservatism of the moral police is so loud that we begin to feel they represent the opinion of the majority. In truth, this is not so. We Indians are very open-minded about all kinds of circumstances. Twenty three years ago, in Fire, Nandita Das and I were shown making love to each other and the Indian Censor Board didn’t frown.”

Now that Article 377 of the Indian Constitution which rendered homosexuality illegal, is repealed, actress Lisa Ray who plays a lesbian in Four Shots More Please!, says, “Times have changed, this is a new sexually liberated India. This mood of freedom is bound to be reflected in films that we make.”

Jai Hind!

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