Sonam Kapoor, Ian McKellen inaugurate South Asia’s biggest LGBT film festival

Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor and British actor Sir Ian McKellen inaugurated the the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival at the Liberty Cinema. The duo lit the ceremonial lamp announcing the start of the seventh edition of the five-day-long festival on Wednesday, May 25.

Filmmaker Sridhar Rangayan, who is the festival director, including actor Kunal Kapoor and RJ Malishka also attended the event. Kashish Film Festivalis South Asia's biggest and India's only mainstream LGBT film festival, which is being held from May 25-29.

Speaking at the inaugural event, Sir McKellen, a homosexual himself, said he was very happy to be at Kashish.

"On my first visit to Mumbai, I am very pleased to attend the opening night of Kashish 2016. For many years, gay characters appeared in films only as comic relief. Increasingly, the film industry has matured. I look forward to Kashish and to discovering more about Bollywood filmmakers who reject fantasy for truth," said the actor known for his work in films such as 'The Lord of the Rings' and 'The Hobbit'.

Saying that she is a “strong supporter” of basic human rights, Sonam added, "I'm here for Kashish, and I'm here because I strongly believe in what this film festival stands for, that it's a basic human right; it's not about being lesbian, gay, female, male, transsexual, anything, it's about being able to be who you want to be and somebody who is just themselves. I'm a strong supporter of basic human rights.”

Known for his queer films like ‘The Pink Mirror’ and ‘Yours Emotionally’, Sridhar Rangayan said, "We couldn't even imagine seven years ago that we will have a mainstream LGBT film festival, and that it will be so huge. Kashish has not only been a cinematic platform, but has transformed people's lives."

As many as 182 films from 53 countries, including 27 Indian films, will be screened at the festival. The screenings will be held at three venues in South Mumbai – Liberty Cinema, Alliance Francaise de Bombay and Max Mueller Bhavan.