10 brilliant queer South Asian films and TV shows to binge-watch

Nathaniel Curtis, Sabi Mehboob and Chaneil Kular.

In recent years LGBTQ+ South Asian representation on the small and big screens has come on leaps and bounds.

From the first sapphic Bollywood film Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga to the touching character arc of Nas on Channel 4’s Ackley Bridge, there’s a rich array of characters that will make you laugh, cry or simply just feel seen.

Here’s a list of some of the best queer South Asian representation out there.

Ackley Bridge

Nas in Ackley Bridge
Amy-Leigh Hickmans as Nasreen “Nas” Paracha in Ackley Bridge. (YouTube/Channel 4)

Channel 4’s drama-comedy series Ackley Bridge, set in a Yorkshire school, follows the ups and downs of students Nasreen “Nas” Paracha (Amy-Leigh Hickman) and best friend Missy.

Nas, a British Pakistani Muslim, goes through a poignant journey after coming out as a lesbian. It’s a powerful story of family acceptance, strong friendships and coming-of-age shenanigans.  

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga

No list would be complete without this groundbreaking 2019 Bollywood film, starring Sonam Kapoor as the lesbian daughter of her real-life father Anil Kapoor.

Directed by Shelly Chopra Dhar, Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, which translates as How I Felt When I Saw That Girl, follows the delicate love story between two women as they come to terms with their sexuality and confront the people they love with the truth. It will make you laugh, cry and fill your heart with queer joy.  

It’s a Sin

Nathaniel Curtis starring in Channel 4 series It's a Sin
Nathaniel Curtis in It’s a Sin. (Channel 4)

Russell T Davies’ hit Channel 4 drama, It’s a Sin, follows a group of queer young adults as their lives are devastated by the AIDs crisis in the 1980s.

Among the friends, we meet the brilliant Ash Mukherjee (Nathaniel Curtis), a British Indian gay man whose warmth and joy are irresistible, even as he navigates love and loss.

Lizbeth Farooqi (Seyan Sarvan) also shines as the determined lawyer who fights for the rights of Colin (Callum Scott Howells) when he is maltreated in hospital. Stellar representation across the board.

Cobalt Blue

The Netflix original film Cobalt Blue, based on the 2013 novel by Sachin Kundalkar, follows the story of a brother and sister in a traditional Marathi family who fall in love with the same man.

Exploring themes of isolation and romantic fantasy, it’s a reflective and poignant watch of queer love.

Sex Education

Anwar in Sex Education.
Anwar in Sex Education. (Netflix)

For some lighter relief you can always rely on Netflix’s Sex Education.

The show boasts a diverse cast, with representation across the spectrum of gender, sexuality and race. As the hilarious Anwar, Chaneil Kular is outstanding – and his snarky comments and chaotic sex life have made him a huge hit with viewers. 

Modern Love Mumbai

Modern Love: Mumbai is the first international edition of the popular Amazon Prime series based on the long-running New York Times column.

With six stand-alone episodes, the second, Baai, follows the story of Manzu as he connects with his grandmother in his ancestral home. As he is confronted with the decision whether to tell her the truth about his life, Baai is a story of intergenerational acceptance, queer joy and hope for the future. 

Queer Parivaar 

Written, directed by and starring Shiva Raichandani, Queer Parivaar is a short musical drama. When a mysterious gate-crasher interrupts a wedding, protagonists Madhav and Sufi are forced to confront the truths of the past.

The storyline explores the heart-warming intergenerational relationship between the film’s trans non-binary lead (Raichandani) and the surprise wedding guest. You can find screenings here.

Sort Of

Bilal Baig who stars as Saib Mehboob
Bilal Baig as Sabi Mehboob (Getty)

Created by Bilal Baig, this Canadian sitcom is a groundbreaking comedy following Sabi Mehboob, a non-binary Pakistani individual in their twenties, navigating family, community and identity. With a host of brilliant supporting characters, it’s a masterclass in celebrating diversity.

The Syed Family Xmas Eve Game Night

Director and writer Fawzia Mirza is the powerhouse behind pioneering queer and inclusive projects, such as web series Kam Kardashian and Brown Girl Problems and the film Signature Move.

Their latest short comedy film follows Noor, a queer Pakistani Muslim woman, introducing her Puerto Rican girlfriend to her family on their annual games night. Hilarity ensues. You can find screenings of the film here

Why Are You Like This 

Olivia Junkeer as Mia in Why Are You Like This
Olivia Junkeer as Mia in Why Are You Like This. (YouTube/ABC)

Australian comedy Why Are You Like This stars Olivia Junkeer as Mia, a chaotic twentysomething trying to figure out her life one day at a time.

Mia is a South Asian bisexual woman caught up in work politics, identity crises and, of course, having a good time with her friends. It’s witty and relatable.