Exploring the lives of trangenders of Kolkata

LGBT Rights

After the screening of his latest film, Rainbows are Real a documentary based on the lives of four transgenders of Kolkata, filmmaker Ritesh Kumar during the post screening discussion made an emotional plea to the audience.

“In a country where women are subjugated brutally, imagine the plight of those males who feel like women. But does this mean that they are they not human? Is their blood not red? Do they have no right to have feelings,” asked Kumar, visibly overwhelmed by emotion.

In an interview with Metrolife, the filmmaker elaborated about his emotional attachment with the transgender community of India. “I grew up in a small town of Varanasi and like most Indians I was told that transgenders are bad or rotten. We were encouraged to keep away from them and the culture surrounding us only taught us to mock them and make fun of their personality,” Kumar said.

According to him, it was only after he moved to Delhi that he could satiate his ‘curiosity’ about a people whom he had always wished to know more about. “During the course of filming my documentary I became very close to a group of four
transgenders. We would eat together, watch films and roam around. When my film was completed Anu who was born as Ajay, asked me if she could tie a rakhi and this
was a moment I can never forget in my life,” Kumar told Metrolife.

“These people face sexual violence on a daily basis. Rape, molestation, beatings and humiliation have become a part of their lives. How can we as human allow this to be done to another human?” asked Kumar.

The filmmaker is not new to topics of gender violence and sexual exploitation. His first documentary film came out in 2010 and was titled Holy Wives. It dealt with caste-based sexual exploitation in southern parts of India. It was after the response he got to this documentary that made him explore further into the rights of sexual minorities of India. In the same year he travelled to Kolkata and befriended some LGBT people with whom he spent a major part of his time till 2012. In the film as well, Kumar incorporates footages of daily violence and humiliation faced by the protagonists.

“My film was complete in 2013 and 10 days later the Supreme Court decision about criminalising homosexuality flooded all television sets. I honestly have not felt any sadder in my life,” said Kumar who now has taken up the cause to fight for LGBT rights through activism as well.

“This is important. My films are merely a starting point of a process. I believe the real work starts after the film is screened. The work should not end with people watching films and appreciating them. They should contribute as well,” Kumar said.

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