Communication & Media Studies

Frames per Second: Can queer romantic comedies boost India’s gay culture?

gay culture

India might have decriminalized non-heteronormative love, but there is still barely any social acceptance of it. Whether Bollywood fantasies would be able to create a fledging gay culture in the country, only time will tell.


Uttaran Das Gupta, Assistant Professor and Assistant Dean, Jindal School of Journalism and Communication, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana.


A new subgenre has emerged in Hindi cinema—the Queer romantic comedy. At the moment, it is a slow trickle, with one or two films a year. It began with ‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga’ (2019), followed by ‘Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan’ (2020), and then last year’s ‘Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui’ (2021). 

The release of the trailer ‘Badhai Do’, starring Rajkummar Rao and Bhumi Pednekar, earlier this week confirms that a new genre is in town. And the success that some of these films have tasted at the box office means they will be more.

This is a far cry from ‘Fire’ (1996), which had provoked violence and vandalism in different parts of India. Or, small-budget, indie projects like ‘Bomgay’ (1996)—arguably India’s first queer film—or ‘My Brother Nikhil’ (2005). 

Even more recent projects like ‘Margarita With A Straw’ (2014) or ‘Aligarh’ (2015) were made on shoe-string budgets. Though both were critically acclaimed, neither made a splash at the box office. 

‘Aligarh’ had provoked angry comments and a call for a ban from the mayor of the town and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Shakuntala Bharti. It is also a far cry from homophobic representations in films like ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’ (2003) or ‘Dostana’ (2008).

Published in: Business Standard

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