The sixth edition of the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival began today in Mumbai. This year, there’ll be screenings of 180 films from 44 countries, ranging from queer classics like The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert (1994) to student films like Kaaye Kaaye Sexual (2013). Here are a couple of our recommendations culled from the festival’s very comprehensive line-up.

Do I Sound Gay?

When journalist David Thorpe broke up with his boyfriend, he went on a trip to Fire Island. There, he found himself constantly irritated by the “chattering gay voices" he heard around him. This gave him the idea for Do I Sound Gay?—a documentary which looks at the various connotations of, and prejudices associated with, “sounding gay". Thorpe spoke to a broad selection of interviewees, from college students to linguists to celebrities like activist and author Dan Savage and writer David Sedaris, to try and understand their (and his own) insecurities about the way they sound.

Waiting In the Wings: The Musical

Judging from the trailer, it seems safe to assume that few of the characters in Waiting In The Wings: The Musical will have issues with their sounding gay. This film by Jenn Page is a farcical look at the LGBT haven that is the New York theatre scene. Anthony, a wide-eyed Montana boy, and Tony, a New Yorker, are entered by a casting agency in contests meant for the other: Tony in an Off-Broadway musical, Anthony in an audition for male strippers. Expect off-pitch singing, un-sexy dancing and other musical hi-jinks. Also look out for a cameo by Shirley Jones, the star of such classic musicals as Oklahoma! (1955) and The Music Man (1962).

Orchids: My Intersex Adventure

Film-maker Phoebe Hart was born with something called Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, which meant that though she looked outwardly feminine, she had male chromosomes and undescended testes (removed later through surgery). In other words, she was intersex, something her parents didn’t tell her until she was 17. Hart explored her condition, her family’s reaction to it, and the experiences of other intersex individuals through a remarkable autobiographical documentary called Orchids: My Intersex Adventure (a reference to the fact that orchids have both male and female parts). Hart shot the film along with her sister Bonnie on equipment ranging from camcorders to Super-8, and used family photos and home movies to illustrate her difficult, fascinating journey.

Chena Kintu Ajana

Dipankar Dutta’s documentary Chena Kintu Ajana (Known Strangers) is about the female impersonators who used to perform jatra (Bengali folk theatre) on stage. Dutta attempts to outline the history of female impersonation over the years through the lives of performers such as Upen Rani, Bonophool Rani, Khsitish Rani and others. The film includes interviews with surviving performers, theatre veterans and scholars.

Qissa: The Tale Of A Lonely Ghost

Anup Singh’s film is about Umber Singh (Irrfan Khan), a Sikh man who, after fathering two daughters, desperately wants his third child to be a son. Though the child turns out to be a girl, Singh’s wife keeps this fact from him. Incredibly, he turns a blind eye to a host of warning signs, names her Kanwar and raises her as a boy. Matters reach a head when Kanwar is married off to a local girl. Irrfan is frightening as the conservative Umber Singh, while Tillotama Shome quite beautifully captures Kanwar’s confusion and gradual self-realization.

Visit www.mumbaiqueerfest.com for the schedule.

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