Justalkin Episode 67: A look at representation of LGBTQ characters in mainstream cinema
One of Elton John’s most popular songs goes: Oh no no no, I’m a Rocketman, Rocketman, burning out his fuse up here alone! He’s anything but alone right now. This is Justalkin brought to you by in.com. We’ve had biopics and musicals, but it’s great when the two combine. And the story of Elton John is quite an incredible one. A man who was knighted, but still found ways to tick off people like Vladimir Putin and religious heads with his views on sexuality. The movie follows his journey from a prodigy at the Royal Academy of Music to the star he is today, and since it follows his personal journey it also talks about his sexual orientation. And we’re glad we get to see the story of a star who decided to use his fame for causes that also affect a larger population. Here’s taking a look at other LGBTQ characters on screen.
One of the most recent biopics and it was about one of the most popular human beings on the planet! The movie follows the journey of ‘Queen’ through the eyes of their frontman, Freddie Mercury, and although there were complaints that the makers didn’t really understand Mercury’s sexuality, we can’t deny that it’s a sensitive topic and the protagonist’s popularity didn’t help ease things out. But aren’t we glad we got to see other sides of a star we still love, and who has grown to become an LGBTQ icon across the world even though he didn’t set out to be one!
An entire movie about cowboys who shared a deep bond, in times where therapy wasn’t available like it is for us today, was a really radical step that the makers took. It was a very emotional tale of two men who were confused and had ups and downs in their relationship with each other as well as others. Two heterosexual men - Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger - were cast as the main protagonists and that didn’t sit too well with some people, but nobody could deny that the performances were really heartfelt.
My brother Nikhil
Bollywood had a knack of using homosexual and transgender characters in comic roles. Till finally there came a sensible movie like this one. Juhi Chawla and Sanjay Suri play siblings, in what is a representation of the real-life events of AIDS activist Dominic D’Souza. It talks about how people back in the day had to deal with ostracisation from society before they could be educated about the implications of AIDS. It’s more about that than his homosexual relationship, but Nikhil’s boyfriend is not introduced as a novelty to shock audiences but is a very real, regular relationship like any other one. And because they treated the relationship ordinarily, it became extraordinary in its own way.
Bombay and Roja were considered his best roles, till Arvind Swamy decided to come back on screen with a movie called ‘Dear Dad’, where he plays a father who confesses to being a homosexual, to his fourteen-year-old son. A very sensitive topic, but it was dealt with in a very mature, and easy manner. It’s shot beautifully and Arvind Swamy delivers a great performance. And no matter what a person’s orientation, it tells whoever is watching the film that it’s okay to be yourself.
Aligarh is based on the real-life events of Professor Siras, who lost his job at AMU after his homosexuality was discovered. The incredible Manoj Bajpayee portrays this character, and Rajkumar Rao plays journalist Deepu Sebastian. Hansal Mehta directed the film, and with names like these, the movie actually picked up traction and more people ended up watching it. It’s still difficult to understand the exact chain of events and its impact, but the movie does make us think.
Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga
Coming from one of the most prominent film families, Sonam Kapoor surprised a lot of people when she chose to be in this movie. When she and her real-life father Anil Kapoor decided to do this film, it turned a lot of heads. It tells the story of how regular Indian families, especially those not from urban areas, deal with homosexuality. With mainstream actors choosing to do movies like these, let’s hope mainstream Bollywood grows in the right direction!
Moonlight shot even more to fame after the Oscar fiasco, where for a while the Best Picture award went to La La Land. But even otherwise is quite an incredible film that follows the life of a man as a kid, through his adolescence, and during his early adulthood, as he discovers himself and his sexuality. It required equally moving performances from three different actors in this case. The first film with an all-black cast, the first one with an LGBTQ related plot, and a movie that didn’t make too much money at the box office, to win a Best Picture Oscar! It was about time!
Kiss of the Spiderwoman
Kiss of the Spider Woman is a Brazilian-American drama and is the story of two very different individuals who end up sharing a prison cell during the Brazilian Military government. William Hurt plays Luis Molina, a transgender who builds a strong bond with a man named Valentin. It talks about how transgenders are always discriminated against, but how they’re just like anybody else emotionally.
Thankfully, over the years, we’ve moved from the over-the-top caricatures of people who are not the mainstream definition of cis, and along with industries from the rest of the world, Bollywood also seems to be evolving. This is Justalkin brought to you by in.com.Read More