Two women's hands reach for one another, but there's too much space between the two to connect.
Uranus 2324, Thailand’s Game-Changing Sapphic Sci-Fi Film, Premieres July 4
May 25, 2024
Musical artist Chappell Roan poses in a silky burgundy dress. A burgundy shawl (or veil) covers her hair. Roan's auburn ringlets peek out from under the shawl.
“Good Luck, Babe!” – How A Chappell Roan Bop Accidentally Divided Queer TikTok
May 28, 2024
Two women sit across from one another at a table. One woman wears a dark blue shirt, the other a turquoise sari.

Colorful costumes, choreographed dance sequences, and dramatic declarations of love. Around the globe, Bollywood has become synonymous with these elements — and rightly so since nobody does magic on celluloid better than Indian heroes and heroines. However, what the Indian film industry seldom gets credit for is its stellar storytelling, which often occupies space for marginalized perspectives in a way that few other mediums have been able to. 

Despite the persistence of the colonial Section 377 in the Indian Penal Code, which criminalized homosexuality until 2018, some filmmakers and artists have been working to tell queer stories despite sociopolitical barriers. In fact, Badnaam Basti by Prem Kapoor, which is regarded as the first gay film from the subcontinent, came out in 1971. Fire by Deepa Mehta set film festivals around the world ablaze as far back as 1996! Here are some more contemporary LGBTQ+ Bollywood films to add to your watchlist immediately:


Margarita with a Straw (2014)

In many ways, Margarita with a Straw is a tale of becoming. Starring the brilliant Kalki Koechlin, Sayani Gupta, and Revathi, it is the story of Laila, a young woman with cerebral palsy exploring her sexuality. With a narrative set at the intersection of disability and queerness, this movie broke barriers with its strong emotional core and warm portrayals of intimacy.

Most significantly, director Shonali Bose never loses track of what is most important — Laila’s agency and personhood is always at the forefront of the tale, and her disability is treated with dignity instead of being romanticized as ‘inspirational’ or being used to portray her as someone for the audience to pity. She is a character with layers, complicated relationship dynamics, and desire. If you are looking for a bildungsroman that does not center around a manchild becoming a little less of a manchild during the runtime of the movie, then this film cannot be recommended enough!


Aligarh (2015)

Created by director Hansal Mehta, Aligarh tells the true story of professor Ramchandra Siras who was the head of the Classical Modern Indian Languages Faculty at Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh. Siras had been suspended from his job at the university on ‘morality’ grounds when a local news crew broke into his apartment and recorded him being intimate with another man. This movie makes sure to address the violent nature of this gross violation and all that follows without being preachy.

There are some definite trigger warnings for this one, as the professor faced extreme homophobia at the hands of the media, society, and his university. However, this movie is really important for making spaces to tell the story of a life that was cut too short. The film features phenomenal actors Manoj Bajpayee and Rajkumar Rao who bring gravitas and depth to their parts. 


Geeli Puchchi (2021)

Geeli Puchchi is a short film that was released on Netflix as a part of the anthology Ajeeb Dastans. Directed by Neeraj Ghaywan of Masaan fame, it manages to say a lot in its short run time of 43 minutes. The protagonist is Bharti Mandal, played by the iconic Konkona Sharma, who works as a factory worker and is denied a promotion to become a data operator because of her caste. When Priya, the married woman who is hired for that role instead, enters the picture we are initially led to believe that this will turn out to be a love story between the two women. But the tale that Ghaywan has set out to tell is more layered than that — we see how the different privileges and barriers that the women face impact their worldview and perspective of each other, and intersectionality remains at the center of the narrative throughout.

Without giving too much away, this is definitely a film that sees its characters as three-dimensional people instead of using their identities to tick off token boxes. Aditi Rao Hyadri delivers an emotional performance as the closeted Priya as well. This one will definitely stay with you well after the credits roll.


Badhai Do (2022)

Starring Rajkumar Rao, Bhumi Pednekar, Chum Darang, and Gulshan Devaiah, Badhai Do is a story about ‘lavender marriages’ — a phenomenon where gay men and lesbian women marry each other as a response to societal pressure so that there can be a mutual understanding and they can be free to live with their lovers. The narrative follows Physical Education teacher Suman Singh and police officer Shardul Thakur, who are both closeted and experiencing extreme familial pressure to tie the knot. It also subtly addresses other issues faced by the queer community in India, like catfishing on dating apps, being unable to adopt children, and the very real dangers that can accompany being outed. 

The best things about the movie, however, are the two love songs “Hum Thay Seedhe Saadhe” and “Atak Gaya” where each character gets to a romantic montage with their respective love interest. The climax, which features a heart-wrenching scene between Shardul and his mother — played with irreplaceable honesty by Sheeba Chaddha — is sure to leave you smiling and crying at the same time!


✨Bonus✨ Made In Heaven, Season 1 (2019)

If you are more of a binge-watcher than a movie lover, then look no further than the Prime original TV series Made in Heaven, which follows wedding planners Tara Khanna and Arjun Mathur as they navigate their way through the landscape of New Delhi. With gray characters and layered observations, this show makes a strong case for queer liberation by showing us what generations of Indians had to endure under Section 377. The series shows how the political is personal by mapping how LGBTQ+ discrimination impacts the relationships and life journey of one of the characters. This definitely is not one to skip.


With each passing day, more and more queer artists from India are able to tell stories from behind the camera and in front of it. This list of LGBTQ+ Bollywood films is only going to get longer — and that is a cause for celebration if there ever was one!




Khushi Bajaj
Khushi Bajaj (she/her) is a writer and poet from Lucknow, India who has been published in two anthologies by Penguin Random House and on the platforms of Gay Times, Diva, Feminism in India, Metro, and Gaysi Family, amongst others. Previous awards won by her include the Switchboard Poetry Prize (2024), the Orange Flower Award for Writing on Woman at Work (2022), and the international Briefly Write Poetry Prize (2021). You can read more of her work at