This LGBTQ film festival is where you need to be at this week

If Ashok Row Kavi is the father of the Indian LGBTQ movement, then Sridhar Rangayan is its cultural crusader. For the past seven years, he has helmed KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival. “We started KASHISH to create a mainstream cultural space for LGBTQ visibility, where the community could watch films without fear, and for the non-LGBTQ community to have a window into our lives. KASHISH is above all else, a space for LGBTQ empowerment,” says Rangayan.

Sridhar Rangayan photo Puni

Sridhar Rangayan

When he first began scouting for possible locations, he was turned away. “There were no takers,” he says. “Theaters were skeptical—they feared the very real possibility of repercussions.” Eventually, PVR Juhu held the first edition back in 2010—but for the past four years, the city’s iconic art deco Liberty Cinema has been the festival’s home.

Anyone who’s grown up LGBTQ in India through the ’80s and ’90s knows that pop culture was not your friend: you’d never find books or films that you could relate to. Thankfully, that’s changing, and initiatives like KASHISH are the reason why. It’s currently the largest LGBTQ film festival in Asia, drawing in a crowd in excess of 10,000 spread out over four days (this year’s festival is from May 24- 28). And if you think it stops there, you’d be wrong. The festival also has many initiatives to nurture and promote Indian LGBTQ films. KASHISH Global facilitates the screening of Indian LGBTQ films worldwide at other festivals. KASHISH Forward is India’s first travelling LGBTQ film festival that goes from campus to campus—they’ve checked off more than 25 cities till date, including tier two towns where LGBTQ visibility is even less. Then, there’s their new initiative, QDrishti Film Grant, which offers one lakh rupees to a filmmaker to make his or her next film and have it produced by the KASHISH Arts Foundation.

This year’s edition has 145 films divided into narrative features, featured shorts and documentaries hosted at Liberty Cinema and Alliance Française de Mumbai. But since it’s practically impossible to try and catch all of them, we got Rangayan to give us his pick of unmissable films.

12 movies to catch at KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival this year

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Unmissable Indian short films

The list of Indian LGBTQ short films this year includes an accomplished collection that is diverse in its approach and themes. From an animated film to a silent short, to those that push the boundaries questioning sex and sexuality, these films mark the coming-of-age of Indian queer cinema.

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Book your tickets for Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival here.


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