Bollywood films are often blamed for churning out big ticket escapist dramas but 2016 saw directors taking on hard-hitting topics like homophobia, drug issue and importance of consent, reports PTI. In “Aligarh”, director Hansal Mehta once again picked up a contemporary true story to highlight the prevailing homophobia in society.
Set in the city of Aligarh, the plot revolved around professor Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras, a sensitive Marathi language professor, who loses his job and is ostracised for his sexual orientation. Manoj Bajpayee sunk his teeth into the role of a gay, lonely man, who finds himself defenceless in the face of prejudice.
Director Shakun Batra can be credited for breaking many stereotypes when it comes to the portrayal of gay community in Bollywood with “Kapoor & Sons”. Fawad Khan played a gay man in the movie, who is hesitant to come out to his family. “Pink” was another bold attempt at addressing the issue of sexual molestation and importance of consent in Indian society.
Taapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari and Andrea Tariang played three young women who face assault charges after being molested by a group of men in the courtroom-drama. Despite being the victim, they are slut-shamed and pressurised to drop the case. The film received wide-spread critical acclaim for bringing the discussion of sexual molestation on the big screen and gave the audience perhaps one of the most defining dialogues this year: ‘No means no’.
The central theme of “Kahaani 2”, which marked the return of Vidya Balan in another challenging role, was about the horrors of child sexual abuse. Director Abhishek Chaubey’s controversial film “Udta Punjab” revolved around the issue of drug-trafficking and abuse in Punjab.
In the movie, Diljit Dosanjh played a morally ambiguous police officer who realises the horror of drugs after his brother is admitted to hospital, Shahid Kapoor is in the character of a high-on-drugs, rockstar Tommy Singh and Alia Bhatt portrays the character of a migrant worker, who accidentally slips into this ugly vortex.
Director Pavan Kripalani’s “Phobia”, which saw Radhika Apte deliver a strong performance, brought into spotlight a disorder rarely talked about: agoraphobia. Apte’s character develops agoraphobia after escaping molestation by a taxi driver. “Phobia” deftly used the psychological thriller setting to bring home the issue of assault.
Gauri Shinde took a light-hearted approach in “Dear Zindagi” to tell the story of a young woman (Alia Bhatt) grappling with relationship issues and the help she eventually finds from a psychologist (Shah Rukh Khan).