Homophobic portrayals and forced humorous situations have had quite a long-lasting tie-up in commercial entertainers, particularly in the last decade. Most transgender and homosexual characters in films are portrayed as if their only job in the world is to hit on the same gender. People around them too are generally shown to be scared by their sight, or completely repulsed. All clear reflections of homophobia that dictates their characterisation. To be fair, a section of art-house films has tried hard to remain sensitive to this aspect but they are a minority. As the world today ushers in ‘The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, Biphobia,’ we track examples of popular actors and makers who’ve done their best to treat ‘homosexuality’ with more empathy. Hindi films seem to be a step ahead on this front. The most recent example being Aravind Swami in the film Dear Dad , where he comes out as a homosexual in front of his son and how he explains his side of the story. For an actor who’s made a comeback to Bollywood after a decade, the choice to pick the role and essay it with sincerity, was a welcome surprise for audiences. Even if the film hasn’t succeeded on the whole, the fact that the actor, known for his ‘masculine charm’, not worrying about his image is itself a welcome gesture.
Even more significant is the case of Fawad Khan, who played a gay role in Kapoor and Sons that was set in a commercial package. Coming out in the open about his preferences is portrayed as a ‘pressure’ situation in the film, where most of the people around him believe he’s the ‘perfect’ guy. The wider reach of the film made sure, that Karan Johar who admitted to have overdone the SRK-Saif gay angle in Kal Ho Na Ho , has indeed matured as a producer. He, in fact, remains the first of the makers to have brought in sensitivity to this issue widely, with his other ventures, Student of The Year and Bombay Talkies .
Rishi Kapoor brought in quite a depth to his role in Student of The Year too, where he keeps his identity a well-kept secret until he’s on his deathbed towards the end of the film. Though the actor did play to the popular ‘comic relief’ stereotype on gays, the veteran made sure he didn’t overdo it.
Similar is the case of Randeep Hooda and Saqib Saleem with Bombay Talkies , where the former is married to a girl, whereas the latter remains open about his homosexuality.
In another world reside Rohit Shetty, Sajid Khan, Farah Khan and similar conventional filmmakers, who need to make that bit of extra effort, in times where you just can’t get away with homophobic conversations in a ‘keep your brains away’ tone.