Meet the KASHISH 2019 Jury

KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival – South Asia’s Biggest and India’s only mainstream lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender film fest –  is back for its 10th edition. The festival will be held from June 12-16, 2019 at two iconic venues in South Mumbai – Liberty Carnival Cinema and Metro Inox. There are three juries this year – for Narrative Films, Documentary Films and Student Films.


Narrative Jury


KASHISH is the most important LGBTQI festival in India. It fosters a culture of cinema and conversations around the community. I am thrilled to be a part of the jury for the narrative section of the festival. In its 10th year, and post 377 being struck down, it is a great time for KASHISH and I wish them the very best.”


Neeraj Ghaywan is the National-Award winning director of the critically acclaimed Indo-French co-production Masaan. Receiving wide acclaim from critics, mainstream media, and audiences alike, at Cannes Film Festival, Masaan won the FIPRESCI prize in the Un Certain Regard section and the Promising Future prize (Prix de l’avenir), in addition to several other awards and nominations around the world. He directed the Fuelled By Love commercial for British Airways and the widely popular Vicks commercial #TouchOfCare, which won many international awards including a Bronze at the Cannes Lion Festival. His latest award-winning short, Juice, subtly tackles patriarchy and misogyny in the Indian household. He is presently directing the second season of Netflix’s highly acclaimed series – Sacred Games.



I am so happy to be on the jury of KASHISH this year. Cinema is my absolute passion. And at KASHISH I am watching films on love, loss, belonging, desire, betrayal, tragedy and comedy. Human stories, in short! LGBTQI people are human- just like everyone else. KASHISH shows us this with great honesty and élan; and also heartbreakingly shows us the very poignant and particular problems faced by the LGBTQI community in today’s world.


Kitu Gidwani is an actor and model. She has starred in several movies and serials on Indian television like Air Hostess and Shaktimaan which were aired on Doordarshan. She has received critical acclaim for her roles in Dance of the Wind (1997), Deepa Mehta’s Earth (1998), Govind Nihalani’s Rukhmavati Ki Haveli (1991), Kamal Haasan’s Abhay. Some of her latest works are Madhur Bhandarkar’s Fashion and Kiran Rao’s Dhobi Ghat. She is also a dancer.





“With the decriminalisation of section 377 – It’s time to celebrate. Time to accept the turn of the tide in our favour. I say OURbecause nothing less than that can be, should be acceptable – for had this not happened its unimaginable how much lesser, smaller we all would be as a people. What better way to celebrate than to share stories – bridges between hearts and minds. A ritual of togetherness, a carnival of cinema. Watching all the films has been revelatory, riveting and immensely moving. Thank you so much for letting me in.”


Sheeba Chadha is a theatre, television and film actor. She has worked as a collaborative artist across mediums for over two and a half decades. Her work in the theatre includes plays like C for Clown (directed by Rajat Kapoor). She was granted The Charles Wallace scholarship for theatre, which funded a summer course at The Royal Academy for Dramatic Arts and an apprenticeship with The Big Telly theatre company in Northern Ireland. She has been a part of several block buster films over the years like Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Dil Se, Luck by Chance, Delhi 6, Talaash, Murder, Dum Laga ke Haisa, Raees, Raid, Badhai Ho, Gully Boy ,Zero etc. Her international projects are West is West, What will People say , Sahasi Chhori  etc . She is also a part of Mira Nair’s web Series based on Vikram Seth’s ASuitable Boy. Her recent web series include Mirzapur and Banish Bandits for Amazon and Permanent Roommates for TVF, to name a few.





Being on the jury of this year’s KASHISH documentary section has definitely been an enriching experience. To witness people from different parts of the world dealing with societal prejudices, and eventually overcoming them and celebrating their identities have been recurrent themes in many of the films we watched. I sincerely hope the festival, which is in its 10th year now sensitizes people who are not aware of the complexities of the problem faced by members of the LGBT community.”


After doing his Masters in Comparative Literature from Jadavpur University, Ranjan Das studied in Film & Television Institute of India, specialising in Film Editing, 1992. He has since worked quite extensively as an Editor, Director and Writer for both Films and Television. He also teaches Filmmaking and conducts independent workshops in Screenplay Writing and Direction all over India. He has been a regular contributor to a weekly column on cinema entitled ‘Screen Savour’ for Financial Chronicle newspaper for six years and occasionally writes for, a website devoted to Indian cinema.




Provocative, enriching, sensitive… KASHISH offers a window to the community at large to sensitise, engage and respect people’s sexual orientation. For the filmmakers it’s an insight on how to enter the private space with dignity. Festivals like these just need to get bigger and bigger.”


After graduating from the FTII Pune, India, in 1992, with a specialisation in Film Editing. After editing numerous documentaries and TV serials, he made his first film KUMAR TALKIES. Subsequently, Pankaj has become a one-man crew producing, directing, shooting and editing his own films. (Pather Chujaeri, The Vote, Gharat, 3 Men and a Bulb, Punches n Ponytails, Seeds of Dissent, In God’s Land, Two Flags and Janani’s Juliet). Pankaj was awarded an Asia Society fellowship at Harvard Asia Centre (2003). He is an alumnus of Asian Film Academy (Pusan) and Berlin Talents (2016). Pankaj also curates and teaches.



For any filmmaking culture to thrive, you need a space where filmmakers can showcase their work, and see work from around the world, where younger artists can connect with more experienced ones. A festival like KASHISH helps build a vibrant Indian culture of films – filmmaking and film viewing – creates a dynamic relationship between queerness and art, and provides a rich community space for the queer community and allies. Being part of the documentary jury helped me connect with this energy and see how much Indian queer documentaries have grown in the last decade.”


Paromita Vohra is a filmmaker, writer and dedicated antakshari player whose work explores feminism, love and desire, urban life and popular culture. She is also the founder and Creative Director of Agents Of Ishq India’s best-loved website about sex, love and desire. Her documentaries include Unlimited Girls, Q2P, Morality Tv Aur Loving Jehad: Ek Manohar Kahani and Partners In Crime among others. She is the writer of the film Khamosh Pani (Silent Waters), the comic Priya’s Mirror. She writes a weekly column, ‘Paro-Normal Activity’, in Sunday Midday and her fiction and non-fiction works have been widely published.





Dr. Ivan Johhn is a sociology professor in Sophia College, Mumbai. He has been working on various academic papers focussed on topics like the attitude of youth to homosexuality and the Gay Movement in Mumbai. He identifies himself as queer; has been an advocate of LGBTQI+ rights. He has published several course books in sociology and is presently on the Board of Studies for Sociology for the HSC Board in Maharashtra.


Jyoti Kapoor is a Mumbai based screenwriter and former journalist. She worked as a correspondent with publications like ‘The Indian Express’ and ‘Mid-Day’ before she crossed over to fiction. She also taught screenwriting at Whistling Woods International, a film school based in Mumbai, before starting out as a full time writer. An alumnus of Film and Television Institute of India, Jyoti has co-written scripts for films like Badhai Ho, Dawat-e-Ishq & Kaccha Limboo, TV show Left Right Left and is the writer of upcoming film Good News.  Jyoti has been actively involved in writers’ rights initiatives and is the Vice President of the Screenwriters’ Association (SWA).



Somnath Sen is a Mumbai based filmmaker and educator. In his career of about three decades in the visual medium, Somnath has worked as Director, Director of Photography, Editor, Scriptwriter and in production oriented activities in over one hundred productions including feature films, documentaries, music videos, television series and commercials in India and in the United States of America. Trained in the Master’s program in Film Directing from USC’s School of Cinema-Television in Los Angeles, Somnath has made critically acclaimed features such as Leela, Faisla and Gora among others.  Along with making films, Somnath teaches filmmaking at Whistling Woods International in Mumbai.