Films That Portray Gender With Nuances
The shape of cinema is changing globally. It is becoming inclusive to gender and the issues that women and people of LGBTQ face. However, films are shown in the garb of feminism often become a trope. It is hollowed with a lack of any authentic portrayal.
Films that portray feminist issues need to showcase the true narrative and social reality without sugarcoating the same. It needs to be told through a lens of nuance.
Let us look at some of the films that portray gender with nuances:
1. Fire by Deepa Mehta
When the film was released in India, it literally rained fire across theatres. The Deepa Mehta film Fire, focuses on portraying a lesbian relationship between two women who are unhappy in their marriages. The relationship and bond of the two women were portrayed with acute sensitivity and nuances, without reducing the characters to their problems. The women, portrayed by Nandita Das and Shabana Azmi, showcased the daily struggle that binds women’s desire, identity and freedom.
2. Margarita With a Straw by Shonali Bose
Shonali Bose does not hesitate to showcase the stories of the subalterns. Margarita With a Straw is an underrated story of Laila, suffering from cerebral palsy and exploring love and sexuality. The film beautifully showcases the stigma people with disability faces, along with an honest portrayal of the protagonist’s confusion and beautiful relationship with her mother.
We grew up watching Disney princesses depend on their families and needing a prince to rescue them. Finally, in 2013, Disney gave us a feminist and an independent princess, Elsa, in Frozen. Elsa is ostracised and confused. She does not need a prince to be rescued or a king to rule a kingdom. Frozen might be the franchise to give us a queer Disney princess.
4. Boys Don’t Cry By Kimberly Pierce
In the 90s, the trans narrative gained popularity in non-fiction films and mainstream cinema. The film is based on the true story of Brandon Teena, who was killed brutally after being raped when her two acquaintances discovered her trans-identity.
The film starred Hillary Swank as a boy named Brandon who struggles to blend in with other boys and gets blamed when the tragedy is caused while hiding his gender identity.
The film aimed to remove the perdition of trans people in communities and initiate a conversation for an inclusive and prejudice-free society for non-binary and queer people.
5. Nagarkirtan by Kaushik Ganguly
The Bengali film is a hidden gem for showcasing a queer love story between a flute player and ahiding eunuch. It shows the struggles the trans-community faces in India to sustain themselves economically. The film has an allegorical motif to Indian folklore of Vaishnavism. Nagarkirtan was nominated in the category of films to be sent as India’s official entry for the Oscars
6. RajKahini by Srijit Mukherjee
Based on the title of Abonindranath Tagore’s book, RajKahini talks about the subalterns of the society, i.e., sex workers and their plight during the partition of India. It is fictional that showcases that how being a woman and a sex worker is a double peril and how one has to fight to survive in the political turmoil of 1947.
7. Raazi by Meghna Gulzar
Meghna Gulzar gave us India’s first female spy thriller. It broke the gender normative idea that only men have galls and the guts to be spies for the country. Raazi also showed the concept of gender and consent in a marriage with the importance of equality needed to sustain a relationship between husband and wife.
In today’s cinematic space, we need more such films that portray gender and gender issues, keeping their social realism intact and giving an authentic narrative. These films represent the viewpoints and cultural reality of the repressed genders and subalterns present in society. Without the nuanced portrayal and narrative of gender in cinema, the stories of different gender spectrums will be forced into erasure.
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