MUMBAI: The 13th edition of the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, which happens to be South Asia's biggest LGBTQIA+ film festival is currently underway at Liberty Cinema in India's financial capital in the Pride month of June.
The film fest, which screens gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer films from India and around the world, is the first Indian LGBTQ+ festival to be held with the approval of the Information & Broadcasting Ministry, Government of India.
The film fest was founded in 2010, a year after the Delhi High Court's landmark ruling decriminalised homosexual intercourse between consenting adults and judged Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code to be conflicting with the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India. It boasts of support from Indian film personalities with Shyam Benegal being the Festival Patron.
Since then, Kashish has become an important medium for exhibition, production and distribution of LGBTQIA+ films. It has been voted as one of the Top 5 LGBT Film Festivals in the World, and also one of the Top 5 Film Festivals in India.
The festival will be screening more than 190 films from 53 countries from June 1 to June 5. 'Antharam' the bilingual Tamil-Malayalam film opened the fest. It focuses on the plight of a trans woman who had to live as a wife of an ordinary man. 'Antharam' deals with the inner conflicts, warmth, trauma and joyous moments in the lives of a trans woman, a woman and a man living under the same roof.
'Antharam' was followed by the screening of the Rajkummar Rao and Bhumi Pednekar-starrer 'Badhaai Do'. The film happens to be one of the rare few commercial Bollywood films to have an LGBTQIA story at the heart of it.
Commenting on the occasion, Rajkummar Rao said, "I am grateful that the audiences resonated so well with our film. Now that the Pride month is here, and celebrating it at a platform like KASHISH with a film that's so close to me is truly heartwarming."
The screening of the Junglee Pictures' movie, which was the special feature at the fest, was attended by Rajkummar Rao, Chum Darang, Harshavardhan Kulkarni and Junglee Pictures CEO Amrita Pandey along with the film's team.
The 30-minute short 'Sheer Qorma', starring Shabana Azmi, Divya Dutta and Swara Bharkar, directed by Faraz Ansari will be screened on June 4. It will play as Indian Narrative Centepiece film, followed by a panel discussion titled, 'Mainstreaming Lesbian & Non-Binary Identities'.
Other notable feature length films are 'Holy Wound' by Asok R Nath with no dialogues, 'Naanu Ladies' in Kannada by Shailaja Padindala, a non-binary filmmaker, 'July, 2020' in English directed by Sahej Nandrajog and 'Sanwri - Love Beyond Gender' in Hindi, directed by Pallavi Roy. Two other notable films are 'Trans Kashmir', about transgender community in Kashmir by Surabhi Dewan, and 'Mumu Shelly' by Batul Mukhtiar.
'Potato Dreams of America', the USA feature will be the closing film for this year's Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival.