I'm not a social reformer, says Lingadevaru

I'm not a social reformer, says Lingadevaru
Whenever a transgender would walk up to his car, he’d quickly roll his window up and look the other way. But that changed in 2009 when he came across reports that said a boy was forcibly made to change his gender.

“It took place close to where I lived and that got me thinking — is something like that possible? It set me on a quest for more information. Before the incident, I didn’t know anything about transgenders and the world they lived in, but now, my perception has changed,” says director B S Lingadevaru, who showcased his award-winning film ‘Naanu Avanalla...Avalu’ at the eighth annual Bengaluru International Film Festival.

Based on Living Smile Vidya’s autobiography, ‘I Am Vidya: A Transgender’s Journey’, the film tells a tale of self-discovery and a fight to lead a dignified life.

Take a closer look and you’ll see that Lingadevaru’s transformation is part of the narration as well.

“It’s all about perception. Handing out money to transgenders on the road, out of sympathy, doesn’t help in any way. There has to be acceptance,” he explains. This acceptance, according to him, comes with a channel for discussion that is inclusive of the minoritised community. In his reaction to the news that transgenders may be evicted from traffic junctions by the City cops, he says, “If they have access to a dignified way of living, why would they beg? The government should ask that question instead of imposing rules that fail to address the larger problem at hand. You can’t impose rules and hand out punishment to change something. If a person’s mindset doesn’t change, there will be no end to this misconception and discrimination.”

Lingadevaru is also opposed to schemes that hand out ‘compensation’ money. “The government can’t give Rs 1,000 and expect them to live. The ‘gutka’ they buy will cost that much! Instead, they should look at why they eat ‘gutka’ and create a healthy work environment.”

Through ‘Naanu Avanalla...Avalu’, Lingadevaru creates a discourse on transgenders that doesn’t allow room for dehumanisation. But the film isn’t used as a tool for change, instead it allows room for discussion and perspectives.

“I’m not a social reformer. I want people to ask the same questions I did and come up with answers of their own. Cinema is just a medium to communicate a story that can be received in any way.”

When he began making this film, people urged him not to, as it was an ‘unknown world’, but a gut feeling told him that there’s more than meets the eye. Now, he doesn’t see the point in ‘othering’ a group that is, after all human.
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