Stories of same sex love

Stories of same sex love

If we die together, keep us together by any means and if we live, we will go far away to never return.” These were the opening lines of the letter Sucheta wrote to her parents, when she decided to flee with Swapna, her lover.

The documentary film Ebang Bewarish by Debalina Majumdar follows the same-sex couple’s tribulations through the letter they wrote, just before they committed suicide together, in Nandigram, West Bengal.

Through this one death, Majumdar takes on societies’ role in culminating feelings of death among sexually excluded minorities. The death which was in a small village did not receive much media attention. But Majumdar’s effort to bring out the cause of Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender was evident, as through the first death, she examines the lives of others who face the same social stigma everyday.

Since Nandigram is a rural village, the residents are not even aware of the concept of same sex love, let alone the fact that this love can be as romantic as between Dimple Kapadia and Rishi Kapoor in Bobby or Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla in Qayamat se Qayamat Tak. The families of the deceased confess to everything but in the most innocent way possible. When probed by the filmmaker, the police investigating the case, vehemently disregard ‘same sex love’ as a lead.

Sucheta and Swapna’s families don’t go to the morgue to receive their body for the last rites as rumours of their affair begin to spread in the village. Therefore, they are ‘ebang bewarish’. ‘Bewarish’, meaning ‘the unclaimed’, is an apt title as the film brings out the desolation of such persons who are mostly ‘unclaimed’ by the world.

Majumdar’s initiative was creative, she asks her subjects/characters to read the letter, and give their reactions. She traces stories of a lesbian mother, a transsexual man, a pansexual woman who is against the social construct completely and a hopeless daughter.

The film follows their stories of ‘coming out’ to the world about their sexuality. The four protagonists come from different social backgrounds and each has an agonising story to share. Somehow class and caste differences have always played a major role in formulating liberal ideas, and the film inclines towards the same theory. Whereas, the urban lesbian mother is able to disclose her love for another woman to her family after ten years of marriage, the middle class transsexual- lesbian is unable to convince his family for a sex change. The disowned daughter has lost all hopes of acceptance by her family and the pansexual girl doesn’t want to disclose anything to anybody from fear of exclusion. Though they all are parallel stories but they intersect at one point — they all had wanted to end their lives like Sucheta and Swapna, at one or more point in their life.

What happens to Sucheta and Swapna is most enchanting, yet painful. The music and the quotes in the film render a spiritual touch to their journey of true love, removing any taint of activism. The last photograph of Sucheta and Swapna in which they are lying together, holding each other’s hands and facing each other, will remain etched into the memories of many, after the film is over.