Bollywood’s Queer Dostana: Articulating a Transnational Queer Indian Identity and Family in 2008’s Dostana
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Mainstream ‘masala’ Bollywood films have played a key role in producing and reiterating a nationalist Indian identity centered on the monolithic notion of the Hindu, wealthy and patriarchal India. The result of such attenuated discourses has been a great limitation on who gets included in the signifier ‘Indian’. Though, as I posit in this paper, these very mainstream ‘masala’ Bollywood films have at times also offered the opportunity to contest this culturally conflated Indian identity by acting as a heterotopic space – a subversive space for not only the reiteration of the hegemonic social reality but also a space where it can be contested. Particularly relevant here is the role of these films in shaping conceptions of queer desire and sexuality. This paper is an analysis of the 2008 Bollywood film, Dostana, and its role as a heterotropic space for the creation of a new queer transnational Indian identity and family. I posit that Dostana presented a new queer Indian identity, independent of the historicized, right wing, sociocultural conceptions of queer desire and bodies prevailing in India. In doing so, I will argue that the film creates a nascent queer gaze through its representation of queered desire, bodies and the Indian family unity – moving the queer Indian identity out of its heteorpatriarchal closet and into the centre of transnational, mainstream Indian culture.