It’s easy to find LGBT movies on Netflix or gay-themed movies on Amazon Prime, but not in theaters near you. In 2013, we completed 100 years of cinema, but if one had to count films with LGBTQ characters in it, they will be a handful. And, if you want to look out for movies that revolve around a gay or lesbian character, you will have even fewer movies to count on your fingers.

But, to ensure that you watch the best of the queer cinema from India, we have compiled a list of best Bollywood LGBTQ themed movies you should watch right away.

1. Fire (1996)

FIRE

Two women (played by Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das), who are often ridiculed by their husbands, find love and solace in each other’s company. Fire is the first film that explored Indian women’s alternative sexuality on the silver screen.

Though highly controversial during its prime, Fire was an essential part of new freedom in films from the subcontinent. Deepa Mehta very skillfully cloaks both women’s anger in romance, in beautiful photography, and in the gentle sexuality that is often more erotic than explicit. The film has a seductive resonance simply because Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das do a better job of creating art about sex. They are very beautiful, gentle yet sad together. A must-watch for all Indian lesbians for many reasons!

2. My Brother…Nikhil (2005)

My Brother…Nikhil

If you looking for the best gay movies on Netflix, this one should certainly be on your ‘watch list’. My Brother…Nikhil revolves around a swimmer who finds his life falling apart after getting diagnosed with HIV. In his troubled times, he finds the support of his sister, Anamika (Juhi Chawla) and his boyfriend, Nigel (Purab Kohli).

I remember when I watched this film.  The portrayal of the relationships between Nikhil and Nigel was so deeply heart-touching that I couldn’t hold my tears back. Not to forget, the film is powered by memorable performances by all especially Sanjay Suri, Purab Kohli, Lillete Dubey, and Victor Banerjee.

3. Margarita with a Straw (2014)

Margarita with a Straw

Laila loves music and romance – but cerebral palsy doesn’t always help her express herself. But what happens when Laila meets Khanum, a visually affected lesbian, and discovers a new dimension to her sexuality?

Margarita with a Straw is an acting triumph. Giggling, crying, even masturbating, Kalki Koechlin plays Laila with unabashed perfection. The film is full of delights and dilemmas, from crushes to creative pushes, of a bisexual girl’s life. The film is a breakthrough, portraying physical challenges with brightness, it is deeply moving, a philosophical film which makes you wonder if the body is a palace or prison. Watch it, simply because this Margarita is worth a try.

4. Aligarh (2015)

Aligarh

Hansal Mehta’s “Aligarh” is not a gay-themed film; it is a human rights story that reveals the plight of being homosexual in a conservative society like India. It is a tapestry of a compelling drama, enveloped between the two historical verdicts – the Delhi High Court’s first decriminalizing and then the Supreme Court restoring criminalizing same-sex relations under Section 377.

The true story of Dr. S R Siras, Aligarh starts with the provocative moment when his privacy is invaded by some who forcibly enter his house and film him sharing an intimate moment with another man. The gripping narrative and natural performances by Manoj Bajpai and Rajkummar Rao keep you glued to the screen and give you a glimpse into the life of the protagonist. Caution: just keep your tissue ready; this one is an emotional film.

5. 377 अब Normal (2019)

377 अब Normal

One of the best LGBT movies from 2019, this Zee5 Original follows years of litigation to decriminalize homosexuality in India. Having great actors like Shashank Arora, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, and Maanvi Gagroo around, the web film focuses on the lives and loves of those most touched by article Section 377 of Indian Penal Code, which is, fortunately, a thing of the past.

377 अब Normal tells a very important story from a community lens that has been silenced for too long. Inspired by the Navtej Singh Johar Vs Union of India case (2018), the film, rightly so, addresses the social stigma that LGBTQ people have been subjected to for years.

Honorable mention

Darmiyaan: In Between (1997)

Tamanna (1998)

Mango Soufflé (2002)

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