Bombay Showcase

Queer lives on screen

A still from Eidi , which is about the relationship between a transgender activist and a closeted gay man.– Photo: Special arrangement  

Queer Ink has been busy celebrating the LGBT community with “Pride at the The Hive” this month. Today, as part of the ongoing celebration Qatha, an evening dedicated to artistes, who will show their queer-identified works on film, will be launched.

“Qatha is meant to encourage the mainstream to engage with the queer world through film screenings and intimate conversations. It is all about journeying with storytellers and their creative work,” says Shobhna Kumar, Director at Queer Ink, that publishes books, produces videos, and organises events related to queer issues.

The first edition of Qatha will feature three short films by Mumbai-based filmmaker Pradipta Ray today at The Hive. These are Raat Baki (2012), Eidi (2014) and Guy Next Door (2015). Ray says, “ Raat Baki is the story of one night involving three characters searching for intimacy: a straight person, a gay person, and a transgender person. Eidi is about the relationship between a transgender activist and a closeted gay man. The complication is that the transgender person already has a stable boyfriend. Guy Next Door is a horror film about a boy who is flirting with someone he meets in an online chat room.”

Ray studied at the Government College of Art and Craft in Kolkata as well as the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad. “I was born in a family where my being a male child who wore make-up was not a problem. Not doing homework and being careless about studies were the things I was scolded for. My father, unlike most other patriarchs in Indian families, was hardly bothered. He was okay with my leading the life I wanted.”

In activism and in academics, the growing discourse around queer politics is concerned with abandoning the use of non-binary language such as man/woman and him/her. However, this is not a matter of grave concern for Ray. “Biologically, I am a man. To be honest, all my life, I have enjoyed the freedom Indian society offers a man. But inside, I feel like a woman. I dress like a woman. I do not care if people call me ‘he’ or ‘she’. First, you tell them there are men who dress like women, and women who dress like men. Then you tell them how they need to address you. All this might be too much for a heterosexual person to digest. You cannot expect change overnight. It happens gradually,” says Ray. In the months to follow, Qatha will also screen films made by Ashish Sawhny and Rohan Kanawade from Mumbai as well as Avinash Matta from Hyderabad. Kumar is also open to screening films made by people who do not identify as queer but are interested in queer issues. “For Qatha, we are interested in quality representation of queer lives in India. The films chosen, speak a language that the audience can connect with. Section 377 focuses only on the sexual act. We want to emphasise the human being. It is only with engagement with people’s experiences that will help to reduce stigma,” says Kumar.

Qatha will launch at The Hive today at 7 pm. Filmmaker Pradipta Ray will be present to interact with the audience after the film screenings .

(The author is a freelance writer)


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Printable version | Jun 12, 2021 8:33:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/entertainment/Queer-lives-on-screen/article14009062.ece

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