Catch Nandita Das and Deepa Mehta at Kashish Pride Film Festival

Touted as South Asia’s biggest LGBTQ+ film festival, the five-day-long Kashish Pride Film Festival will screen 133 films from 46 countries and a Fire-side chat with Nandita Das and Deepa Mehta

Updated - May 10, 2024 10:02 pm IST

Published - May 10, 2024 08:37 pm IST

(Left to right) Director Deepa Mehta and actor Nandita Das

(Left to right) Director Deepa Mehta and actor Nandita Das | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Nearly two-and-a-half decades ago, Fire (1998), a film about homosexual relations between two women was lambasted by the orthodox rhetoric to an extent that theatres across the country were vandalised, recounts Sridhar Rangayan, director of Kashish Pride Film Festival. In its 15th edition now, the festival, which is slated to screen 133 films from 46 countries, will stage a conversation about the controversial film with its director Deepa Mehta and actor Nandita Das on May 18 at Mumbai’s Liberty Cinema from 4.30pm to 5.30pm. They are calling it a Fire-side chat.

 Sridhar Rangayan, irector of Kashish Pride Film Festival

 Sridhar Rangayan, irector of Kashish Pride Film Festival | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Touted as South Asia’s biggest LGBTQ+ film festival, the five-day-long Kashish Pride Film Festival is the new moniker of Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival held in Mumbai annually and is organised by Kashish Arts Foundation.

“We changed the festival’s name in November last year as we wanted to be inclusive, make the festival relevant to those who are not from the LGBTQA+ community — pride signifies everyone. Also, in future, Kashish intends to travel to cities other than Mumbai,” says Sridhar.

A still from Deepa Mehta’s I Am Sirat

A still from Deepa Mehta’s I Am Sirat | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

As he reminisces the festival’s journey, which began in 2010 soon after The Delhi High Court ruled in 2009 that Section 377 cannot be used to punish sex between two consenting adults, Sridhar observes a growth in the number of attendees and collaborators. “When we started, theatre owners were apprehensive because their experience with Fire was not a pleasant one. We had to convince them. The festival’s first edition was held in PVR Cinemas in Juhu. From 2014, we shifted to Liberty Cinemas, which has 1,200 seats, and we see a full house every year,” says Sridhar. He adds, “In the initial years, our collaborators were those who supported community-based work, like condom manufacturers and UNDP; 2018 changed everything, with Section 377 being struck down. From three or four financial partners in the first three years, we now have around six or seven.”

This year, the festival, themed Unfurl Your Pride, will be held from May 15 to 19 at Liberty Cinema, May 16 to 19 at Alliance Française de Bombay and May 17 and 18 at Cinepolis (Andheri West). “We got close to 300 submissions this year and have a selection team of 10 people from the community and from the industry. They preview every film and mark it for selection. The team also marks a few outstanding films to be in competition which the jury members watch. Our narrative jury comprises director Kiran Rao and actors Varun Sobti and Sonali Kulkarni. The documentary jury are filmmakers Kavita Bahl, Pushpendra Singh and Shilpi Gulati,” says Sridhar.

 A still from the French film Spirit of Ecstasy

 A still from the French film Spirit of Ecstasy | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

The festival will open with the French film Spirit of Ecstasy about a gender-questioning stock-market trader and the closing film is an American movie Mutt, in which a trans man goes through an emotional roller-coaster over a 24-hour period in New York City, bumping into his ex-boyfriend, sister and dad for the first time after having lost touch with them since his gender transitioning. The festival will also screen I Am Sirat, a film about a transgender woman, directed by Deepa Mehta and Sirat Taneja on May 18.

 A still from American movie Mutt

 A still from American movie Mutt | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

“We also have a lineup of performances for the opening night, including a stand-up act by comedian Varun Grover and kathak-lavani fusion performance by Aditi Bhagwat. It will be hosted by Anu menon and SeduQtruss SoniQa. For the closing night, we have a grand LGBTQA+ led dance performance by the group Colour Positive,” shares Sridhar.

Tickets for Kashish Pride Film Festival start at ₹600 on

A sneak peak into the country’s biggest events and festivals before they happen. So, you want to travel more? Watch this space.

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