Queer Infocus | February II ’20

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Queer InFocus is a bimonthly roundup of queer news in India.      

Boundary-breaking Bollywood rom-com hopes to convince India’s boomers to embrace gay people

19th February, 2020

Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan was released on 21st February in theatres in India, and centers a romance between two gay men. The film stars popular actor Ayushmann Khurrana and Jitendra Kumar as the gay couple, who try to win over the parents of Kumar’s character. The film even features the couple kissing and doesn’t shy away from taboo subjects relating to family acceptance, and is packaged to appeal to families and particularly older movie go-ers, in hopes to change their perceptions of the gay community.

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Sheer Qorma Trailer Released

25th February, 2020

The trailer of Sheer Qorma, written and directed by Faraz Azmi Ansari, was released on Tuesday, and stars Swara Bhasker, Divya Dutta and Shabana Azmi. The story focus on a queer relationship and with a non-binary lead character, and the lack of acceptance of the relationship from one of the character’s mothers, played by Shabana Azmi. Shabana Azmi also had a leading role in Deepa Mehta’s Fire, which is the first Bollywood film to feature a lesbian relationship. The film is being released soon, and already has screening dates at several international film festivals, such as the LGBTQ+ film festival BFI Flare in London.

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How Mental Health Professionals Undermined LGBTQIA+ Rights in India

27th February, 2020

A recent article published in the ‘Indian Journal of Medical Ethics’ analysed 17 articles on LGBTQIA+ issues in India from two established psychiatry and psychology journals, and have found there to not be a consistently supported human rights approach to queer issues. The researchers found that the fields of psychology and psychiatry tended to wait for legal institutions to decriminalise the LGBTQIA+ before advocating for their rights.

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This past month has been groundbreaking for Indian cinema, with the release of a mainstream Bollywood film featuring a gay couple. This kind of exposure can do wonders for mindsets, particularly with the older generation, and help normalise queer lives. However, it is Sheer Qorma that really pushes boundaries in featuring a non-binary character, as non-binary individuals see little to no representation of themselves in film (international as well as Indian). Hopefully Sheer Qorma will get a larger release beyond the film festival circuit, as it looks to be a beautiful film exploring vital themes. 

Harshil Shah is the Program Officer at the Queer Resource Centre at One Future Collective.

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Queer Infocus | July 2020

The Beginning, Middle and End: A Tryst with Depression