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Bollywood 'starting to promote positive gay characters'

By
Karan Johar

© WENN / Dominic Chan

Bollywood is said to be emerging as a positive influence on Indian society through its inclusion of gay characters in its films.

A number of LGBT activists and Hindi film figures have spoken on the subject as the fifth Delhi Queer Pride march took place today (November 25).

"I think there has been a sea change in the representation of queer characters in Bollywood," writer and academic Rohit K Dasgupta told Digital Spy.

"The effeminate sidekick has been replaced by characters with many more shades like in Page 3 or I Am. I think this is partly due to societal transformation and Bollywood's own shifting perception towards queer identities."

Hindi releases including My Brother Nikhil, Kal Ho Naa Ho, Fashion, Honeymoon Travels, Dunno Y... Na Jaane Kyun and Student of the Year have all addressed gay issues.

Filmmaker Tarun Mansukhani defended Karan Johar's portrayal of Rishi Kapoor's gay dean in Student of the Year, which some critics had argued was a negative representation.

"As far as our character of the dean goes, he didn't get to have a relationship or spend his life with the man he loved. But at the end he was surrounded by people who loved him and the man he loves," said the director.

Mansukhani made his film debut with the gay-themed project Dostana, one of the biggest commercial successes of 2008, with a sequel currently in pre-production.

Activist and lawyer Shashi Bhushan added: "Films have a huge influence on masses, and if big names come out in our support, it will surely help us gain acceptance."

However, Mohnish Kabir Malhotra, one of the Pride march organisers, still believes that the film industry has some way to go in its treatment of gay roles.

"I think it's high time Bollywood stops portraying gay characters as feminine and comical. It sets out a strong stereotype and makes things even harder for people," he said.

Watch Karan Johar's 'The Disco Song' from Student of the Year below:

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