Today, the curtains go up on the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival which is the country’s biggest Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) film festival. Every year, Kashish, though struggling for funds, has tried to break new grounds through venue and visibility. The festival of films is to be held at three venues in Mumbai from May 27 to May 31 this year. This time the three venues are the Alliance Francaise headquarters at Theosophy Hall, Marine Lines; Liberty Cinema, just a stone’s throw away; and the Max Mueller Bhavan in Kala Ghoda.
The Max Mueller Bhavan is a welcome addition to the venues and goes to prove that slowly, but surely, more cinema houses are opening their doors to the LGBT fest. While it is too early to say, one remembers Kashish playing only at the Alliance Francaise some years earlier. Then, Liberty Cinema threw open its stunning doors and the LGBT community was thrilled at the new venue, which has so much character and charm. Now comes the Max Mueller, and the community will surely dare to dream of a time when the fest goes truly mainstream — when the tagline, ‘Kashish, playing at a theater next to you’ may not seem unreal any longer.
This year’s edition is bigger in scope than previous years. A higher number of films is only part of the story. There is an effort to go beyond films and encompass an entire cultural experience. Now, you have a gallery in SoBo hosting an exhibition of works curated along the theme, ‘Freedom to Choose’, running concurrently with the festival. A book reading of a debut novel called Don’t Let Him Know is also part of the sidelights, proving that Kashish is striving to move beyond the confines of a theatre to give Mumbai a wider LGBT canvas.
Having said that, it is important to note that the community’s battles are not won yet. It is a slow and painful process, but the increasing scope of LGBT events like this one proves there are small triumphs that one can take heart from.