Sir Ian McKellen and Sonam Kapoor inaugurate KASHISH 2016

Star-studded opening night ceremony of South Asia’s biggest LGBT film fest

British actor Sir Ian McKellen and Bollywood actor Sonam Kapoor on Wednesday May 25, 2016 inaugurated the seventh edition of KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival at the iconic Liberty Cinema. The actors lit a ceremonial lamp to signal the start of South Asia’s biggest and India’s only mainstream LGBT film fest that will be held from May 25-29, 2016. Actor Kunal Kapoor unveiled the festival catalogue. 182 films from 53 countries, including 27 Indian films, will be screened at the festival that will be held at three venues in South Mumbai – Liberty Cinema, Alliance Francaise de Bombay and Max Mueller Bhavan.

“On my first visit to Mumbai, I am very pleased to attend the opening night of the KASHISH 2016 Festival,” said McKellen. “For too many years, gay characters appeared in films only as comic relief, as often as not meeting a sticky end, as if that’s all they deserved. Increasingly, in India too, the film industry has matured, treating gay people with the same seriousness as straight characters.  I look forward at KASHISH to discovering more about Bollywood’s film-makers who reject fantasy for the truth about gay people,” added McKellen.

“KASHISH is a wonderful opportunity that brings together talented filmmakers and the society together on a platform that advocates change in mindsets. Movies have immense power to influence people and bring about change. Every person in India is guaranteed equality and right to life and liberty, which includes the right to love a person of one’s choice, irrespective of sex or gender. The universal language that moves the world is that of love and Hindi films from its very beginnings have portrayed love in its many forms and shades. It’s time for the society to speak out against the law that criminalises people for who they love and restore them with the dignity that they deserve,” said actor Sonam Kapoor.

Since the time it debuted in 2010, KASHISH has grown to be an important event in the city’s cultural calendar. “We couldn’t imagine seven years ago that that we will have a mainstream LGBT film festival, we couldn’t ever imagine that it will be so huge. There was a hunger to see good LGBT films in Mumbai and KASHISH fulfilled the need. KASHISH has not only been a cinematic platform, but has transformed people’s lives,” said Sridhar Rangayan, Festival Director, adding, “We believe in the power of KASHISH – that it has the potential to change mindsets and enable attitudinal shifts in the society.”

The KASHISH 2016 international jury comprises National Award winning actor Rajeshwari Sachdev, popular television actor Manav Gohil, filmmaker Parvathi Balagopalan, theatre director Kaizaad Kotwal and Nuremberg International Human Rights Film Festival, Festival Director Andrea Kuhn. Acclaimed actor Anupam Kher’s Actor Prepares will sponsor cash prizes for the three top competition categories at KASHISH – Rs 30,000 for the Best Narrative Feature Film, Rs 20,000 for the Best Indian Narrative Short film and Rs 20,000 for the Best Performance in a Lead Role. Wadia Movietone awards Rs 15,000 for the Riyad Wadia Award for the Best Emerging Indian Filmmaker.

The title partner of the festival is, India’s leading crowdfunding platform. “We are continuing with our association with KASHISH, now in its 4th year. We love the concept of KASHISH and we’re proud to come on board this year as sponsors as well. It is a much needed platform to give voice to the LGBT issues, which people are generally ignorant about. We hope that KASHISH reaches out beyond its community and becomes an inclusive platform for everyone to learn about alternate sexuality. And Wishberry will always support this mission,” said Anshulika Dubey, C-Founder & COO, Wishberry.

One of India’s largest conglomerates, Godrej Industries, is a Supporting Partner. “At Godrej, we are committed to diversity and inclusion and equal rights for our LGBT employees. We want to create an environment where every Godrejite can bring their ‘whole self’ to work. In this regard, we have already taken several steps – our HR policies ensure non-discrimination and we are building a culture of inclusion. Our association with the 7th KASHISH festival indicates our commitment to the cause of promoting LGBT inclusion- both at the workplace and beyond. Our efforts in this direction go very well with our values of treating everyone equally and fairly. It also ensures that as an organization we remain competitive by attracting and retaining the best talent,” said Parmesh Shahani, Vice President of Godrej Industries.

The festival is presented by KASHISH Arts Foundation. It is organised by Solaris Pictures and co-organised by the Humsafar Trust. “Kashish opens the doors for the LGBT communities in India to our planetary presence with its joys, sorrows and many a time despair too. It is a celebration of our very existence in the social landscape of humankind. It’s also a big window to other LGBT cultures of what is happening in India displayed in a mainstream process of openness and with sheer pride in who we are and wish to be,” said Ashok Row Kavi, founder chairperson of The Humsafar Trust.


KASHISH 2016 will be held from May 25-29, 2016 at Liberty Cinema, Alliance Française de Bombay and Max Mueller Bhavan. The festival theme is ‘7 Shades of Love’. Love in all its forms has been celebrated as the highest form of human emotions since the beginning of civilization – romantic love or Eros, friendship or the love between friends, the love between a parent and a child, the first stirrings of love between young lovers to the enduring love of committed partners, the love for humanity and the love and acceptance of one’s true self. The festival theme for 2016, ‘7 Shades of Love’ embodies this spirit. It underlines that at the core of human relationships is the capacity to love each other and offer respect so that each person can live with equality and dignity. The festival website is

KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival

Voted as one of the Top 5 LGBT Film Festival in the World, KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival is South Asia’s biggest queer film festival and the only LGBT film festival in India to be held in a mainstream theater. Founded in 2010, KASHISH is held over 5 days at three venues. It is the first Indian LGBT festival to be held with approval by the Information & Broadcasting Ministry, Government of India. KASHISH 2016 is presented by KASHISH Arts Foundation and powered by Wishberry. Organizer is Solaris Pictures and co-organizer is The Humsafar Trust.