2023 Wrapped: Ivanka Das, Sushant Divgikr & Others Open Up On Playing Queer Characters On Screen, LGBTQIA+ Representation In Cinema

2023 Wrapped: Ivanka Das, Sushant Divgikr & Others Open Up On Playing Queer Characters On Screen, LGBTQIA+ Representation In Cinema

From showing the struggles of members of the LGBTQIA+ community to just telling their stories, the acceptance of this genre of movies has increased in Bollywood over a period of time

Oshin Fernandes Sagarika Choudhary Updated: Saturday, December 30, 2023, 09:59 PM IST
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Over the years, representation of the LGBTQIA+ community in Hindi movies has evolved. From showing their struggles to just telling their stories, the acceptance of this genre of movies has increased over a period of time. The Free Press Journal celebrates the spirit of queer characters of 2023.

Vikas Kumar - Aarya S3 

2023 has been quite incredible. If I’m not wrong, the depiction of ACP Khan in Aarya season 1 did set a benchmark. No cheap humour, no dramatic reveal, no stark background music, no sensationalisation. Many films and series that have followed have tried to be inclusive, without making it a big deal. A huge positive when compared to films of yore. I’ve had members from the LGBTQ community come up to me and thank me for the sensitive representation. I feel whoever suits the part best, should play it on screen. We’ve already had a couple of examples. The most striking one has been Taali. I feel Sushmita Sen was perfect as Gauri Sawant, the transgender activist, and Gauri on the other hand could easily be cast as whatever she wants to play, irrespective of gender/ orientation.

Ivanka Das - Ghoomer

2023 has been a better year for me compared to the last two. The industry is creating beautiful characters for LGBTQIA individuals. As education about the spectrum is increasing, some are understanding the definitions and meanings associated with it. Especially when it comes to understanding the difference between transsexual and transgender. A transsexual is someone trapped in the wrong body, whether born male or female, and they pursue transitioning through medication and surgeries. On the other hand, a transgender person may be born male but identifies with the female soul, without necessarily opting for surgery. It's crucial to recognise the diversity within the transgender community, including hijras, drag queens, and those who embrace their gender without undergoing surgery. Unfortunately, the depth of this understanding is often lacking in society, leading to misconceptions.

Poojan Chhabra - Adhura 

2023 has been a great year for me. Reflecting upon it, I am glad I did some very different roles including Ninad in Adhura. I felt proud playing it. As an industry, we are now working towards portraying LGBTQ characters as close to accuracy as we can, as our society is finally becoming more aware and inclusive every day. It is creating more awareness through OTT platforms which was not possible before. ⁠I believe a suitable actor for a queer role should play the role irrespective of an actor’s gender/ sexual orientation and I agree that if queer actors play queer roles, more employment would be generated in respect of the same.

Kashyap Baldev Shangari - Made In Heaven S2 

2023 has been the most exciting year. The love and appreciation for my work as an actor both from the audience and the industry has been overwhelming. LGBTQ characters are no longer caricatures or stencils of a narrowed understanding of society but holistic people with holistic lives and individualities. It is no more a token of appreciation or support, but an inclusive effort to show the life of a human regardless of orientation. I feel anybody playing a character or representing a life and part of society must be a trained actor first. Only a queer person playing a queer character and heterosexuals playing heterosexual people is rather oppressing and regressing, furthermore limiting for an actor (queer or otherwise). No two queer people and no two heterosexual people are the same - and as actors it’s our duty with the help of material the writer has put in, to build new life even if it is inspired.

Abhay Verma - Safed 

I call 2023 my 'birth year' in the movies. The word ‘PRIDE’ says it all.. and there is nothing else that I feel at this moment with every chance I’m getting to represent and support a helpless and loveless chunk of society in one way or the other. To express emotions on command is a job of an actor and to prefer any kind of special treatment to the queer community is what I won’t support. Anyone who can empathise with a character and can express and make it count should be given the wonderful opportunity to create some change in society for good.

Sushant Divgikr - Thank You For Coming 

The year 2023 has been great for me as I marked my Bollywood debut with Thank You For Coming, and in it, I played the role of both male and trans characters, the response to which has been overwhelming. I also made my singing debut in the film with ‘Pari Hoon Main’, and it has been nothing short of a dream. I feel there has been an extreme representation of trans characters in our films for years, with their portrayal being either funny or caricaturish. We are not merely a part of some juvenile humour. Also, it's upsetting for me when I see cisgender actors being cast in the role of trans characters, with the excuse that they bring "star power". Recently, a show saw a very popular star essay the role of a trans person, but the project fell flat on its face. So the 'popular face' remark is just an excuse not to give work to trans actors. Times are changing, of course, and lately, not just me, but several other people from our community have done meaty roles in projects helmed by ace filmmakers. At the end of the day, we want to be known as artists -- as actors -- irrespective of what our gender is.

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