Kashish, Mumbai’s Queer Film Festival opened in Mumbai yesterday. The annual festival, which has a theme ‘Towards Change’ is a Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) event and features films from all over the world on queer themes. KASHISH, a not-for-profit initiative is holding screenings of a total of 132 films at Cinemax, in Versova Andheri and concurrently at the Alliance Francaise de Bombay, Marine Lines till May 26. Bollywood has been rightly panned for movies touching on queer themes also showing that it certainly has come of age. Actor Anupam Kher is sponsoring certain awards at the festival, including the best actor and best film awards.
The fact that the festival has two fairly prominent venues proves that there are venues in the city that are willing to show queer cinema. In terms of choice of films, the festival is moving towards a wider variety each year. This time, there are films from Iran, Pakistan and the focus is on China. In all these countries, LGBT people live in particularly challenging conditions, as homosexuality is still a taboo subject matter. The fact that the organisers have been able to tap into what is underground art and bring these films to Mumbai is a huge step forward.
While Section 377, criminalising gay sex was read down by the High Court, it shows that the queer community is winning small battles every day. Whether it is an ever-widening window for queer films, founding of queer-centric enterprises, barriers are breaking down slowly but surely here. This is not to say that the community has found complete acceptance. Yet, spaces — both physical and psychological — are becoming more and more inclusive.