They say cinema is the reflection of our society. Our films and stories are largely influenced by the way our society behaves, and the way it’s been for decades. True. But the reverse is also true. Cinema also bestows upon itself the power to influence and change the way our society is! A massive industry that Bollywood is today, with its reach deep rooted at various levels of the social structure influences each and every section of the society. Our films can’t be merely just a source of entertainment, fun and frolic. They indeed, have a much larger role to play in the progress of the society. Cinema can be the biggest and a very efficient agent of change, provided we use the opportunities it offers in that direction.
What if I say that forget spearheading the radical changes and social progress, our films are many a times reinforcing, fortifying and strengthening the social stigmas and stereotypes? Guess what I’m talking about here?
The L-G-B-T-Q community. The LGBTQ community has been one of the most visible victims of stereotyping by the Indian film industry. The way our films depict the sexual minorities is indeed shameful, especially for a country like India which very fondly likes to call itself the face of modern democracy, and an epitome of diversity and inclusion. What about sexual diversity?
Is it even justifiable for a progressive country like ours to be prejudicial and judgemental to one of the most minuscule minority. Is this acceptable? Certainly not. It is something that should make our ‘progressive’ film industry hang its head in shame.
Leave alone any support to the cause of the LGBTQ, the way people from the community are portrayed in our movies only reinforces the stigma and stereotypes weaved around them. The methods of the industry, as far as the community is concerned, only celebrate the hundreds of years of discrimination and suppression. They seem to take pride in carrying the legacy forward! Be it gay men being depicted as outrageously made up, comical characters; or the transgenders being stereotyped in the most ridiculous ways, LGBTQ characters have always been used as a butt of jokes, as source of cheap humor to the otherwise sinking storylines.
It’s high time that the moviemakers realise that not all gay men are ‘girly’ and not all transgenders are sex workers. They need to understand themselves and convince their audience that these people are very much like other, so called ‘normal’ human beings. Their sexuality is just one, single trait of their personality and should not be overly glorified, overpowering every other aspect of their character.
However, not all hope is lost. With movies like Kapoor and Sons, and Aligarh bringing some fresh air, the things are slowly changing. But we need to do more. For we still have movies like SOTE and Dostana. We certainly expect better from our beloved film industry. It seriously is high time! It’s 2017.
Edited by Mrinaal Datt
Read more about them here.