Since the Supreme Court verdict re-criminalising gay sex, Delhi has seen a number of shrill rallies, demonstrations and signature campaigns. But somehow, nothing really drives home the point that ‘LGBTs are just as human as us’ better than a tender, sensitive portrayal on reel.
A film on the issue – Rainbows Are Real – accomplished exactly that when it was screened in public for the first time at Jantar Mantar recently. On a cold winter evening, it drew out activists, media persons, concerned citizens and even unsuspecting hawkers to watch a human drama unfold on the lives and daily problems faced by LGBTs.
Rainbows Are Real is set in Kolkata – an old conservative city rarely seen on the map of LGBT activism – and traces the lives of three young transgenders struggling to get the respect of their family and society. Tracy aka Saikat, Anu aka Ajay and Pauli alias Somnath were born boys but soon realised that they were females caged in male bodies.
Since then, they have come out in the open, dress like girls and also move around in a happy, chattering group like girls do. All three are great dancers and Tracy, particularly, sketches very well, emphasising often, “Look at us beyond the lens of gender and you will see numerous talents bestowed on us by the Almighty.”
The film intelligently picks up a few scenes from a Durga puja pandal in the City where the ‘girls’ are visiting. The three love playing Sindoor khela and Pauli very poignantly says, “We know that love, marriage or a happy family life are not in our destiny. So we just fulfill our wishes by playing with sindoor.”
At the same time, the harassment they face at the hand of lechers is also depicted extremely well when a group of boys approach them ‘for a kiss to celebrate the occasion.’ They even boast to the camera later on to have “certainly forced them into the act if it had not been Durga Maa’s pandal.” The three girls barely escape.
That also brings into question the issue of ‘forced prostitution’ in LGBTs. Rudrani Chhetri, an activist, says in the film, “People are totally unwilling to employ a gay which in turn forces us into flesh trade. We are raped, beaten up, even killed and nobody stands up for us because we are not girls but LGBTs.”
Another activist Madhu says, “I think we were better off at the time of Mughals when we were deputed in the queens’ harems. We had a livelihood, respect and protection. Now, all that we have is a voter ID card to give votes to politicians. Otherwise, we are unlawful outcasts with no rights to sex, marriage, adoption, property or anything.”
Notably, the film quotes family members of Tracy, Anu and Pauli as well as some commoners on LGBTs. A cousin of Pauli says, “Dada is a good human being. He helped me get my first job. But my parents have asked me to keep away from him.” The commoners variously opine, “They are mentally ill,” “They have a hormonal problem,” and even, “The Government must ‘control’ their numbers to curb the disease.”
The young-activist director of the film Ritesh Verma told Metrolife, “There are many myths regarding LGBTs in the society which have made their lives hell. It also took me some time to understand this, but it’s not all that difficult. I hope my film is able to reach as far and wide as possible and change mindsets.”
“It’s high time these innocent people are let off the hook.”