It's a momentous day in Indian history – the Indian Supreme Court decriminalised homosexuality in the country by striking down the archaic Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. We asked writer and editor Apurva Asrani, one of the few openly gay people in the Hindi film industry, to recommend seven films worldwide that have done justice in representing the LGBTQ community on screen.
Cat On A Hot Tin Roof explores the life of a married couple where the husband's sexuality is ambiguous. His wife suspects he was in love with a sports buddy. This was made in the 50's and has groundbreaking writing by Tennessee Williams.
Philadelphia was the first mainstream Hollywood film to get a big star like Tom Hanks to play a gay character. Though it was a tragic story involving AIDS, it made a case for sensitivity in the workplace. It was a very influential film for me in my youth.
The Birdcage took the discourse much further. In it, being gay was no longer an issue or a problem. It was a cause for celebration and dance and about loving the over-the-top drag queens. It beautifully explored the married life between Robin Williams and Nathan Lane, and also portrayed a gay couple as parents for the first time. That it was a laugh riot really helped.
Fire and My Brother Nikhil were the boldest of the Indian LGBT Films. They dared to tell stories of same sex love when no one else was doing it. And they both did it with dignity. I remember the opposition to Fire, how people created havoc in cinemas, and how it was banned for a while. But the film eventually ran very successfully.
Brokeback explored the raw passion between two quintessential 'men.' It was a big budget Hollywood film that starred two very beautiful men grappling with their masculinity and struggling with conformity towards societal norms. The sexual relationship between the two men was something we hadn't ever seen before and it was the stuff fantasies are made of.
Call Me By Your Name is a lesson in good parenting. Was awestruck to see a teenage boy's parents encourage and support him when he falls in love with an older man. That one pre-climax scene where the father confesses to his son that he had a similar same-sex relationship in his youth, makes the film pure gold.