Pune film-maker on how Indian cinema tends to promote transgender stereotypes
Film-maker and advertising professional Neville B has decided to pick a sensitive topic for his next film.
Titled Ibb Kya Kothie, the short film revolves around the lives of Kajal and her 10-year-old daughter Pari. Kajal is a transgender woman in her late thirties. The child is the daughter of her dead friend, who was a prostitute.
On dealing with the subject of transgenders, Neville said, “Film-makers usually do not touch this subject as it is a very sensitive issue. Most films that do portray the community often stick to derogatory stereotypes, which is wrong. Moreover, people refrain from casting them. My experience of working with a transgender in my previous movie helped me a lot. The subject of my current movie is very close to my heart, which is the acceptance of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer community (LGBTQ+) community by our society.”
The plot of the movie revolves around the issues faced by the LGBTQ+ community. Neville’s question to the society is that Section 377 (unnatural offence) of the Indian Penal Code has already been decriminalised, when are we going to accept them? He said, “Acceptance for the community from the society is far from near. Even today, people belonging to the LGBTQ+ community are often subjected to homophobic slurs, comments and actions. It is high time this stops. Discriminating on the basis of who one choses to love, needs to be put an end to.”
On how he came about the story, he said that his previous film Kothie N Panthie had a sad and negative ending.
“That was before the decriminalisation of Section 377. It told a different story. Times were different then. However, things today have changed for the community. Transgenders are now being employed as beauticians, tattoo artists, drivers, social workers among other jobs. They are recognised as a third gender. A lot of positive things have been happening. But at the same time they lack acceptance from the society. This non-acceptance is what made me do Ibb Kya Kothie. Even if one person changes his or her ways after watching the movie, I will say I have achieved my purpose.”
Neville had in his earlier interviews mentioned issues faced while funding short films. Was it any different this time? “Well, this time I partnered with Filmsmiths Workshop with whom I have been associated for long. By partnering with them I got an in-house cinematographer Swapna Pataskar and Miinal Karekar the editor. This helped us a lot in cost-cutting. It gave us the freedom to shoot without worrying about camera rent and other expenses. Moreover, I had the backing of my team who believed in my story and helped me put life into it.”