When Will Mainstream Movies Stop Casting Cisgenders for Queer Roles?

The OTT platforms showcase a wide spectrum of genres that have prominent dramas originals that depict and circulate queer elements, like Fame Game, Four More Shots Please.

The magnificence of the queer community is the utmost under-represented fraction in mainstream Bollywood, besides the occasional transgender roles, though not in a vital scope either.

Notions circumnavigate ideas and blur them out in the crowd of boards and hoardings of ethics and legality. The much-needed acceptance needed for queer-themed representation on national TV is slow on the uptake, but with a primitive form of the theme taking shape. 

For the section of viewers who prefer movies that defer regular primitive and closeted societal thinking, certain aspects of casting and storytelling lack proper advocacy, leaving them unwarranted. The list of mainstream movies that have queer components is not exhaustive.

The hybrid genre has many queer stories

Movies such as My Brother Nikhil, Margarita With A Straw and Aligarh stand out as excellent examples of hybrid genre movies tackling abhorrence, identity crisis, self-discovery, disability, and same-sex relationships to count a few.

However, recent projects that deal primarily with the romance side of the array, Subh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui and Badhaai Do aim to accumulate a unique presence and audience.

OTT platforms are exploring the spectrum

The OTT platform giants showcase a wide spectrum of genres that have prominent dramas and channel originals that depict and circulate queer elements, to name a few: Amazon Prime’s Made in Heaven, Four More Shots Please and Netflix’s The Fame Game.

Subh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan tried working on a regular gay relationship and their struggle with acceptance, while Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui involved a script with a transgender role. Interestingly, Subh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan isn’t the very first-ever depiction of a homosexual relationship.

Fire brought change to mainstream cinema

Most probably the very first attempt at portrayal in mainstream cinema was Fire (1996) starring Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das. However, the questions still arise.

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Heterosexual actors playing gay roles: Is this a step toward introducing the act subtly to the public? Will casting a cisgender woman for a trans woman role in Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui truly represent the struggles of a transpeople? And if yes, is it right in all-around genuine acceptance?

So, why is Badhaai Do starring Rajkumar Rao and Bhumi Pednekar, an essentially hetero cast playing gay roles, being received in a new light?

Sparks matter between the actors

What has it achieved that the others have not? The answer is the spark, the chemistry. Rajkumar Rao is a fabulous actor, but watching him play a queer character has been a treat for my eyes.

Ayushman Khurana and Jitender Kumar had failed in exhibiting the much-needed spark in an ordinary romantic relationship that Rajkumar Rao and his partners Deepak Arora (Kabir) and Gulshan Devaiah (Guru) have succeeded in. 

This movie cannot be rated as the best in its genre, nor does it justify the fact that a crew of heterosexual actors were needed to play queer roles.

However, it is a definite watch for chemistry and also for highlighting and addressing several factorized stale elements of society that need a breath of fresh air.

We hide to protect

The reason to hide your sexual identity from your conservative family, people’s prejudices towards same-sex relationships, the intricate web of lies knitted to shield yourself as someone who is queer, the subjugated reliance over mused overthinking because society deems you a pervert for being gay! 

And the emotional and moral scars withheld by people who get catfished, the complete disrespect of personal boundaries by families in most Indian marriages, and the dire desperation lavender marriages uphold.  

Reasons to represent LBGTQIA people in movies are many

Despite the need for movies that are socially inclined and informative, films such as Badhaai Do that work on the romance part of a same-sex relationship should be realistic in their portrayal of ordinary queer love life; which is the most appreciable fact of this movie.

Normalizing queerness through media outlets makes it more socially acceptable and, thus, the need for queer people to be cast in their respective roles!

It is high time mainstream movies consider casting queer actors for their roles and then maybe, who knows someday soon, we will get our own Ranjha and Majnu or Heer and Laila playing their parts.

Image Source: Stills from Chandigar Kare Aashiqui and Badhaai Do

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