Loading…
Ormax Media Pvt. Ltd.

Pride or Prejudice?

Pride or Prejudice?

Pride or Prejudice?

On the occasion of Pride Month 2024, this analysis examines the extent and nature of LGBTQIA+ representation in top-rated streaming content in India over the last six years
Published on June 26, 2024   •   4 mins read
Share this Insight
Summary
  • The growth of the streaming category has presented an opportunity for LGBTQIA+ representation, both in terms of the quantity and quality
  • 18% of most-liked streaming content properties (32 of the 180 properties over the six years) depicted some form of queerness, compared to only 5% for theatrical films
  • The authors delve deeper into the nature, forms, and common themes of representation of LGBTQIA+ characters

Over the years, the LGBTQIA+ community has found limited representation in the mainstream media in India. While theatrical films and television have largely steered clear of queer representation (barring a few), the growth of the OTT category has presented an opportunity, both in terms of the quantity and quality of representation. In this article, being written as we come to the end of the Pride Month in 2024, we attempt to capture the extent and nature of the portrayal of LGBTQIA+ characters in streaming originals in India.

For the purpose of this analysis, LGBTQIA+ representation has been understood as the presence of queerness, in the form of queer characters and/or acts of queerness. In specific, acts of queerness will be considered queer because they challenge or defy conventional norms related to gender and sexuality. Therefore, a character need not explicitly identify as a queer character within the narrative, but performing a queer act would qualify it as queer representation.

With this idea of representation, the 30 most-liked content properties of each year (based on Ormax Power Rating, i.e. OPR) for streaming and theatrical categories, were considered for analysis, for the period of 2019 to 2024 (until June). Ormax Power Rating (OPR) is our proprietary metric to measure audience likeability of all content, ranging from theatrical films to streaming originals to linear television shows. OPR is reported on a 0-100 scale, and can be seen as a representation of the show’s inherent content strength, and is also a surrogate for its advocacy, i.e., % audience who are likely to recommend the content to their friends or family after watching it.

The chart below showcases the percentage of top OPR theatrical films (150 over six years, as 2020 & 2021 have been considered as one unit due to the pandemic) and streaming content (180) in the last six years, that showcase queer representation.

PrideMonth-1.png

From the chart above, it can be observed that LGBTQIA+ representation is still at a nascent stage in the theatrical medium, with only 5% of most-liked theatrical films (i.e., 7 out of 150 films considered) over the last six years showcasing any sort of queer representation. Additionally, the form of representation is usually presented in the social-message based comedy genre, making it palatable for the general audience. Films such as Dream Girl, Shubh Mangal Zyada Savdhaan, Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui, etc., are examples of this approach.

PrideMonth-2.png

Streaming content, in comparison with the theatrical medium, has facilitated progressive representation by allowing for diverse content creation with fewer restrictions, and therefore, allowed for higher, as well as a more layered representation of the LGBTQIA+ community on screen. This can be observed with 18% of most-liked streaming content properties (32 of the 180 properties over the six years) depicting queer representation.

Interestingly, in the streaming landscape, the form of queer representation is more undeviating and transparent, with the extent of centrality of this representation also being higher in the narratives. Here are a few examples regarding the nature of representation, and common themes across these properties:

1. Display of struggles and marginalization based on identity: A portion of the anthology Modern Love Mumbai, directed by Hansal Mehta and featuring Pratik Gandhi and Ranveer Brar, connects the protagonist’s trauma of being marginalized during anti-Muslim riots to revealing his love for a man to his aging grandmother, who had protected him during the riots. It blends an intersectional understanding of identity through the simple concept of purity of love.

2. The act of coming out: The family-friendly Maja Ma, featuring Madhuri Dixit, portrays the event of coming out as a transgression in her picturesque lifestyle. This explores how the act of coming out creates ripples in the lives of those around her.

3. Protagonist’s core conflict revolving around gender and sexuality: Karan’s character from Made In Heaven, oscillates between social acceptance of his sexual identity among his professional peers and friends, while he has to be apologetic and underplay this in the context of his family (especially with his mother).

4. Normalization of identity, by making it incidental: In Sacred Games S2, Gaitonde and Guruji are shown in a queer act, but this queerness is only one facet of their identities. This is displayed as an experience within the broader plots of crime, politics, and spirituality rather than being isolated as a separate storyline. Similarly, Mai shows the mutual care and selflessness of two partners, Prashant and Shankar, caught in the underbelly of the city. This is revealed through casual, everyday interactions rather than dramatic revelations or conflicts about their sexuality.

PrideMonth-3.png

It is clear that the emergence of streaming platforms has allowed for greater representation of LGBTQIA+ stories and has also allowed for more nuanced portrayal of these characters, and their lives. However, a lot of this is restricted to premium SVOD shows, that cater to a metropolitan and globalized audience. As India's legal and social attitudes evolve, responsibly crafting stories and narratives that involve queerness, especially for the masses, remains a challenge.

Streaming OTT Digital Web-series Gender Society & Culture
Share this Insight

Authors

Soumya Vats

Soumya Vats

Soumya is a member of the Content & Campaign Testing team, and works on testing projects across films, streaming and television categories. She joined Ormax Media in 2023, after having interned at several non-profit and cultural institutions.

Soumya holds a Bachelor's degree in English from Hansraj College, University of Delhi, and a Master's degree in Film & Media Studies from Columbia University, New York. She is highly interested in film theory and popular cinema, especially in delving into the socio-political resonance of cinema.

Soumya Vats

Soumya is a member of the Content & Campaign Testing team, and works on testing projects across films, streaming and television categories. She joined Ormax Media in 2023, after having interned at several non-profit and cultural institutions.

Soumya holds a Bachelor's degree in English from Hansraj College, University of Delhi, and a Master's degree in Film & Media Studies from Columbia University, New York. She is highly interested in film theory and popular cinema, especially in delving into the socio-political resonance of cinema.

Swayam Kumar

Swayam Kumar

Swayam is an Analyst in the Knowledge Center at Ormax Media, and is responsible for handling the execution of key industry reports published by the company, across theatrical, streaming, television, and other categories. In his earlier role, he was a part of the Content & Campaign Testing team, where he work on film and web-series testing projects.

Prior to joining Ormax Media in 2023, Swayam worked in Marketing & Communications in the development sector, where he built communication strategies for philanthropic foundations and NGOs. Swayam holds a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Christ University, and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Liberal Studies from Ashoka University. He is a passionate cinephile, and is keenly interested in photography, music, art and sports. As an avid traveler, he is always on the lookout for new cultural experiences.

Swayam Kumar

Swayam is an Analyst in the Knowledge Center at Ormax Media, and is responsible for handling the execution of key industry reports published by the company, across theatrical, streaming, television, and other categories. In his earlier role, he was a part of the Content & Campaign Testing team, where he work on film and web-series testing projects.

Prior to joining Ormax Media in 2023, Swayam worked in Marketing & Communications in the development sector, where he built communication strategies for philanthropic foundations and NGOs. Swayam holds a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Christ University, and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Liberal Studies from Ashoka University. He is a passionate cinephile, and is keenly interested in photography, music, art and sports. As an avid traveler, he is always on the lookout for new cultural experiences.

Related Insights

Synopsis Testing: Early content selection decisions using audience feedback

Synopsis Testing: Early content selection decisions using audience feedback

This product update explains the three stages of Content Testing in Ormax Media's work, i.e., Synopsis, Screenplay & Video, and the underlying benefits of testing at the synopsis stage in particular

Nepotism: Bollywood's new marketing challenge?

Nepotism: Bollywood's new marketing challenge?

A section of our latest report, The Bollywood Image Report 2024, captures perceptions regarding nepotism in Bollywood among regular Hindi film audience, and identifies a new marketing challenge

Bundy to Burari: Adapting true crime documentaries to the Indian context

Bundy to Burari: Adapting true crime documentaries to the Indian context

An analysis of successful documentaries on streaming platforms in India, and an understanding of the historical context in which they are consumed, sheds light on unique audience expectations

Subscribe to stay updated with our latest insights Ormax Media Pvt. Ltd.

Subscribe to stay updated with our latest insights

Ormax Media Pvt. Ltd. Privacy Policy

We use cookies to improve your experience on this site. To find out more, read our Privacy Policy