They say cinema is the mirror to society, with the boom in consumption of content online, OTT platforms have completely redefined the idea of content for us.
No longer are we slaves to the same old storyline of boy meets girl or the knight in shining armor coming to rescue the helpless princess, today the princess wears her own armour and romance is not boxed up in archaic gender norms. With the evolution of OTT, we have officially entered an era where all types of relationships are celebrated on screen. The world of web series has provided queer characters with a voice and space to breathe freely in the cinematic universe. A concept rather shied away from in mainstream Indian cinema, representation of the various shades of sexual orientations in the digital space is a huge step forward in accepting and normalizing it in the Indian diaspora.
Here are some stories which go beyond the heteronormativity and celebrates bold queer characters:
Call My Agent
The latest show by Applause Entertainment on Netflix adapted from the French series ‘Dix Pour Cent’ for the Indian audiences follows the life of four Bollywood agents, fighting to keep their agency afloat. The character that captivated everyone’s attention was of Amal (Aahana Khumra) who got the job done with her fierce work ethic and candid ways. She wore her sexuality on her sleeves and was unencumbered in the face of any difficulty . In a time where Indian women are always portrayed as black or white, Amal was a breath of fresh air which was much needed to show women in a bold, flawed and assertive light.
Made In Heaven
Based in the era before Section 377 was abolished, Made In Heaven on Amazon Prime Video is based on the personal and professional struggle of two wedding planners- partners in business and bestfriends. The show portrays the pressing and relevant struggles which the LGBTQIA+ community goes through everyday with the portrayal of Karan Mehra essayed by Arjun Mahur. Karan made us swoon over him with his calm and collected manners. With a strong factor of resonance, his journey makes us laugh and cry with him. His character is one of those rare nuanced ones which provides just the right amount of depth for everyone to fall in love with.
City of Dreams
The political drama series, City of Dreams by Applause Entertainment on Disney+ Hotstar reflects the honest reality of being queer while under the microscopic watch of a conservative society. The character of Poornima Gaikwad (Priya Bapat) brilliantly shows a smart, powerful and ambitious woman who is caught up in the complex world of politics and the consequences which come with power. Things are still not easy for the LGBTQIA+ community and the plot that surrounds Poornima echoes just that, when she has to hide her lesbian identity and marry a man while being in love with her bestfriend. The show very subtly highlights this side of Poornima which molds perfectly with the storyline. Poornima’s character garnered a lot of appreciation from the LGBTQIA+ community.
Four More Shots, Please!
Rejoice because there is finally an Indian show about raw and real women, and a queer character essayed without the stereotypes and charichatureish portrayal. Umang’s (Bani J) character takes it up a notch by being unabashedly herself. Very rarely do we see bisexual characters on screen and this small town girl is out here shattering glass ceilings, challenging stereotypes while navigating a complicated love life and being there for her friends unconditionally. Viewers find themselves rooting for Umang as she brings a ray of hope for every unconventional small-town girl out there. Watch Four More Shots, Please! on Amazon Prime Video.
Bombay Begums on Netflix is a rare tale portraying successful women and their challenging journeys of coming to the top in a male dominated world. A character which amasses a lot of affection from the viewers is that of Ayesha (Plabita Borthakur) a young ambitious girl trying to survive in Mumbai away from her conservative family and coming to terms with her bisexual identity. Ayesha’s character shows a promising development as the story evolves, showcasing her struggles of navigating a new same-sex relationship and the challenges of a single gay lady living in a big town trying to make a name for themselves.