When Indian films are imagined, lesbian and bisexual women rarely come in to mind. Indian films basically refer to some peppy numbers, humors, actions, or drama. Yes, romance has been a significant part of Indian cinema, though it is strictly limited between a man and a woman.
However, this doesn’t mean same sex concept is rare to Indian cinema. These four have beautifully presented same sex relationship from Indian perspectives.
Discussions about Indian female oriented films can’t be complete without Fire. Directed by Indo-Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta, Fire is indeed India’s first ever movie based on same-sex love, and predictably invited huge controversy.
The film is about two women, Radha (Shabana Azmi) and Sita (Nandita Das). They are sister-in-laws and victims of unwilling marriages. There life is quite stereotypical limited within the four walls in New Delhi, taking care of regular household duties and a paralyzed mother-in-law. Radha and her husband Ashok (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) never have sex. Sita finds her husband Jatin (Javed Jaffrey) not interested in her, but would rather spend the nights with his mistress. Gradually, Radha and Sita grow close in relationship.
Chutney Popcorn (1999)
Directed by and starring Indo-Canadian director Nisha Ganatra, Chutney Popcorn is quite a feel good type movie. Reena (Nisha Ganatra) is an aspiring photographer and henna artist, who like many Indian girls often has to convince mother (Madhur Jaffrey) (parents in general) about every little aspectse. On the other hand, Reena is a lesbian and in a relationship with her roommate Lisa (Jill Hennessy). Reena’s lesbian identity is revealed by her mother, who wants her to be in a relationship with Indian boys, specifically with Indian mindset. Reena’s mother doesn’t share a good relationship with her comparatively beautiful older sister Sarita (Sakina Jaffrey).
In the end, Sarita finds out that she’s infertile. Reena, realises about her stubbornness and agrees to carry her sister’s baby. However, Reena seems absolutely immature to carry a child, something which may forever change her relationship with Lisa.
The Journey (2004)
The Journey, directed by Ligy J. Pullappally, is a Malayalam language film shot beautifully in Kerala. The film takes to a circumstance full of tension, and focuses on two girls, Delilah (Shruthy Menon) and Kiran (Suhasini V. Nair), a Catholic and Hindu respectively, who are the best friends. They share a close relationship, which later leads to romance, though without involving any evil’s eye. However, they find their love go in no direction, and upon thinking about it, they see a lot of struggle ahead.
Nina’s Heavenly Delights (2006)
Nina Shah (Shelley Conn) is a beautiful Indian-Scottish cook who comes back home after the death of her father. Alienated from the rest of her family, Nina finds uncomfortable among fake relatives and memories of her troubling past. But she gets shocked to find out something secret about her father that he put up 50% stake of his restaurant as security for a horse race. Lisa (Laura Fraser), wants to sell the restaurant.
Deliberate to save her father’s restaurant, Nina joins Lisa to make entry and win the ‘Best in the West Curry Competition’. Gradually, they get close and romance grows.