South Asian Spotlight —Athira, blogger, discusses LGBTQIA+ Representation in Indian Movies & Recommends Some

Hello again! Today’s post from South Asian Spotlight will be welcoming Athira, who recommends some Indian movies that feature LGBTQIA+ representation. Queerness is such an essential part of the society and I’m so excited to be hosting Athira on my blog as she lists some movies from the Indian film industry with positive queer representation!

Athira is a blogger who runs the blog, Rainbows and Sunshine, which is dedicated to reading and reviewing books with LGBTQ representation. If you haven’t already, go follow their blog for discovering new and diverse reads!

This October, the blog is featuring many voices from the South Asian community, so if you seem to have missed out on the previous posts, check out South Asian Spotlight!

LGTBTQ Representation in Indian Movies

Hello everyone! Today, I want to recommend some queer Indian movies that aren’t tragic. I’m a huge movie/drama addict and watches it any language but it took me a long time to find some happy Indian ones. Growing up, it was so rare to find good representation and most of these recs are from the last couple of years because of that. Usually the ones I’ve seen when I was younger are either really bad rep, when we are the butt of a joke or a toxic villain character or a tragedy. But I’m someone who loves watching (or reading) only happy or open ending ones. By no means, these are perfect but they are all we have. So that’s why I thought I’d make a list, so here you go:

Fire – 1996

The film is loosely based on Ismat Chughtai’s 1942 story, “Lihaaf” (“The Quilt”). Fire is one of the first mainstream Bollywood films to explicitly show homosexual relations, and the first to feature a lesbian relationship. Fire is one of the earliest portrayal of a sapphic relationship on screen. For a film that came out in 1996, I was surprised that it wasn’t tragic. YouTube

The Journey (Sancharam) – 2004

The Journey is a 2004 Malayalam language feature film written, directed and produced by Ligy J. Pullappally, inspired both by her short film Uli and a true story of two lesbian lovers in the South Indian state of Kerala. The film follows two young friends, Kiran, a Hindu, and Delilah, a Catholic, from their first meeting as young children to young adulthood, when they realize their love for each other. So this movie is the only one on this list from my mother tongue. For some reason it’s harder to find movies with both good rep and happiness from the south. So all the rest are in Hindi. Also this has an open ending. Trailer

Sisak – 2017

Set in the fast-paced environs of the bustling Mumbai local trains, Sisak details a wordless romance that develops slowly and intoxicatingly, nestled in the silences and quiet comforts of the end-of-the-day train journeys between two men. This is the first queer silent love story. I really like how they expressed so much without words. It has won 59 international awards at various film festivals. YouTube

Kapoor and Sons – 2016

Brothers Arjun and Rahul return home to visit their ailing grandfather. Amidst numerous ongoing family problems, emotions get intensified when a girl causes a rift between the two. This movie has a side gay character. I was so happy to see that there’s a gay character on a big screen movie, that went on to become a blockbuster. Netflix

Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan – 2020

When two men, Kartik and Aman, fall in love with each other, they face opposition from Aman’s family but they attempt to win them over. This is one of the first main stream movies to be released after Section 377 was abolished and I think the film tried it’s best. It has a happy ending and I hope we get more movies in theaters with queer lead characters. Amazon Prime

Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui – 2021

Manu, a bodybuilder from Chandigarh, India, falls in love with Maanvi, a Zumba teacher. All seems well until a revelation causes turmoil in their love story. From what I remember, it’s one the first movies I’ve seen with a trans character that isn’t a joke or a villain or dying. It’s a Bollywood romance movie with a trans main character and I have to say, it’s not something I’d ever expected I’d be able to see. Netflix

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga – 2021

Sweety hides a secret about her true love and decides to marry a writer to please her father, Balbir Chaudhary. However, chaos ensues when she decides to fight her family and society to win her love. This is also the first time I saw a movie with famous actors that shows a lesbian main character. I really enjoyed this movie and while they could expanded a bit more on many things, overall it was fun. Netflix

Badhaai Do – 2022

Shardul, a gay guy, and Suman, a lesbian woman, enter into holy matrimony to appease their families. However, when Suman’s girlfriend moves in with them, their lives become more complex. Out of all of these, this one might be my favourite. Portraying a fake marriage between a lesbian and a gay character, it manages to give enough time to develop different relationships and friendship and also do so in a fun way. Netflix

And that’s it for my list! Did I include your favourite or did you find some new films to watch? Do you have more recommendations that are happy for me? Please let me know!!


I’m Athira, a lesbian and Indian blogger who blogs about queer books and also asian dramas sometimes. Check out my favourite Queer Asian Dramas if you are interested for more recs. You can also follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook



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