Anupam Kher SLP 2Mumbai: Popular actor Anupam Kher was the chief guest and gave away the Best Film trophy, besides sponsoring the prize money of 50,000 rupees (US$800) for the recently concluded 3rd Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival.

Chilean film “My Last Round” (“Mi Ultimo Round”), directed by Julio Jorquera Arriagada, won the Best Feature Film Award.

Kher has promised that his sponsorship will be an annual feature at the festival, reports

“It sort of dawned on me when I was there that it is only the quality of work that matters when it comes to cinema, not who makes it. Cinema has no boundaries,” he said.

Kher who has never come out as a gay activist said he had made up his mind to stay for just 15 minutes as he had another appointment.

“But I ended up spending one-and-a-half hours here, watching cinema, discussing, talking, soaking in the atmosphere.I was surprised with myself. After all these years in cinema, I made a discovery. Cinema really has no boundaries, it is us who go with pre-conceived notions,” he said in the report.

“I learned that one filmmaker here had made a film called “Logging Out” on a budget of just 3,000 rupees. And that made me think. The initial prize money for Best Film was 10,000. I raised that to 50,000 and also, my company plans to sponsor this amount and award every year,” he said.

Kher was one of the first actors to portray a gay man in Hindi cinema in “Mast Kalandar.”

“I don’t have to be a gay activist to recognize good cinema and support it. My approach here is purely work-oriented. I am on a platform where films are made, and good films are appreciated. It does not matter which section of society makes them,” he said.

If cinema is meant to break barriers, these movies are a wonderful attempt to provide a mainstream platform for the LGBT community, which despite everything, is still relegated to the margins, he said.

“And fighting such odds, if films can be made in zero budget, like I have seen at Kashish, then I would not be surprised if `50,000 can produce a blockbuster tomorrow,” he told

Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival begun in 2010, is the first and only gay and lesbian film festival in India to be held in a mainstream theater and the only queer festival to receive clearance from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

It has screened 110-132 films from 25-40 countries and is now considered not only as India’s biggest queer film festival, but the biggest in South Asia.

Kashish is a not-for-profit LGBT initiative.