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LGBTI films remain a tough sell in Bollywood

LGBTI films remain a tough sell in Bollywood

Bollywon't: Evening Shadows has won multiple awards, but finds home market tough. Photo: Official trailer screenshot.

The Times of India has reported that upcoming actor Rajkummar Rao will play a gay man in a new Bollywood blockbuster due out next year.

Prolific talent: Actor Rajkummar Rao rumoured to have gay role in new film. Photo: Rajkummar Rao Instagram
Prolific talent: Actor Rajkummar Rao rumoured to have gay role in new film. Photo: Rajkummar Rao Instagram

The Film, Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, literally translates as ‘This is how I felt when I saw one girl’ and is due for release in February 2019.

It deals with sensitive issues such as inter-faith relationships and infidelity. However, the Times of India reported that there has been much speculation the movie would also deal with homosexuality.

India legalized same sex relationships in September 2018

If so, it will be the first major Bollywood release to feature a gay character since the government legalized same sex relationships in the country in September. It overturned an old colonial law, known as Section 377, which categorized same sex relations as ‘unnatural offences’.

The new movie, though, is not a full LGBTI feature, and sadly such things remain a tough sell in India’s hugely lucrative cinema industry.

Distributors shy away from supporting LGBTI films

Indian film director, Sridhar Rangayan, told Gay Star News that distributors remain reluctant to sell LGBTI themed movies.

‘I have had a very uphill task distributing my current gay feature film ‘Evening Shadows’, he said. ‘No distributor is willing to put it into the theatres, saying it is challenging to bring in audiences.

‘Though the film has won 13 international awards and screened at 50 international film festivals and touched hearts worldwide with rave audience feedback, it remains to see how this film will work commercially in India.’

Perhaps, though, the change in law will prompt a rethink. The film industry itself has been addressing how LGBTI themes are treated, Rangayan said.

‘I think there is definitely a shift in attitudes towards more sensitive portrayals of LGBTI characters in recent years.

‘Fawad Khan playing a gay character in Kapoor and Sons is still being lauded by audiences’.

And while it may still be too early to say what impact the change in law will have on the industry, Rangayan said he remains optimistic that it will open many doors.

‘We will be releasing early January and it will be the litmus test of attitudes. Fingers firmly crossed.’

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