Indian Cinema Essay

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Indian Cinema and Homosexuals and Third Gender
The effects of the changes in the society due to the sexual revolution in the West in 1960s after the introduction of the birth control pill soon became reflected in popular culture. But for the waves to hit the Indian shore, it took another decade or so. In the entire cinema's history, true portrayal of alternate sexuality occurred only as late as the 70s motivated by the global gay rights movement.
In 1931, Bobby Watson was cast as a homosexual fashion designer of the name Paisley in the film Manhattan Parade and Marlene Dietrich kissed another young woman on the lips in the 1930 film Morocco. While all this happened in Hollywood, Indian film industry waited 40 more years to even mention homosexuality.
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Many in the field consider Rafoo Chakkar (1975) to be Indian cinema's first reference to homosexuality. In the movie, a man falls in love with an androgynous man dressed as a woman. The borders explaining genders get ambiguous and the rejected lover concedes that 'no one is perfect' in a sexual insight that is cynical for the period in the climax of the film.
Since 1980s, there have been several parallel works in Malayalam, Marathi and Bengali cinema on homosexual love. In 1982, Umbartha, a Marathi film contained hints of a lesbian relationship between two women of a remand home.
Flesh and Paper (1990) by Pratibha Parmar was a short on the Indian poet Suniti Namjoshi who is a lesbian. Fire (1998) by Deepa Metha was a latter attempt in emphasizing the plights of lonely women entrapped in miserable marriages and limited by conventional norms. However, it awakened a hornet's nest in India, a country where gender equality is a notion unheard of.
The Malayalam film Sancharram (2004) by Ligy J Pullappally beautifully depicted the confusion and dilemma of two village girls recognizing their sexuality. Bengali film Uttara (2000) by Buddhadev Dasgupta was shaded with homoerotic ideas in his signature poetic non-narrative
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