Transgenders and others from the LGBT community, have to face innumerable struggles in day-to-day life to match up with the standards of society, filled with stereotypes and not ready to accept them. Film Nagarkirtan, director Kaushik Ganguly’s latest, is an endeavour to break such meaningless stigmas and change one’s perspective to the community and recognise them as equal. Excerpts from an interview:
Do you think there has been any change, post the introduction of Section 377?
Judiciary has never been subsidiary for anyone. Now they won’t have to constantly live with the fear of being illegal. Earlier, it was almost like they were stripped of their right to live. They’re still abandoned in society. Society just doesn’t want to accept that there are several genders beyond men and women. It is a natural phenomenon which can be noticed among animals too. Signs of masculinity can be found in a female body and vice versa — be it the Siberian deer or domestic parrot or langoor. If you go to the Bandhavgarh National Park, the guide will show you a community of these kinds of langoors. But we ignore such types and don’t realise that they’re just as normal as us. Even educated people and urban societies aren’t always ready to accept them. Even in an urbanised country like America I have seen same sex marriage was not allowed in all places. Many had to flee to live freely. I saw with my own eyes in an LGBT forum in New York that the family of one such person had chained him to stop him from committing suicide. So this is not just a Third World crisis. One can hear similar stories of deprivation all over the world. People are just not ready to accept anything out of the box.
What was your motivation behind making this unique love story?
Nagarkirtan was not made to give any advantage to the transgender community. It was made to enlighten the homophobic society about the presence of the LGBT people so that it becomes easier for the former to accept them as human beings. When I made Ushnatar Janye (2003) and Ar Ekti Premer Golpo (2010), transgender acceptance was a burning issue then too. It will remain the same till humans among the LBGT cubicle don’t get their right to live. When I made Ar Ekti Premer Golpo, 377 was suspended for some time but again it came into rule. But this issue is not so simple that it can be given a name. There are numerous subtle divisions which need to be addressed. Just like human nature, there are diversities in genders too. So I think it is the responsibility of filmmakers, authors, poets and music composers to propagate the message that these people also belong to society. They also have the right to live, dream, laugh and love. Through our movies we can send the message of love, that love is equal. It is the noble relation between two souls and not body. So, gender is not an issue in love. There are not any differences among the love between two males, two females or between male and female. The passion, joy and sorrow — nothing is any less in any of these relationships.
You obviously had to research a lot for making a movie like this. How was your experience? Research is a very formal word.
You can say, being social. Every LGBT character from the movie, apart from Riddhi, is originally from the community itself. I and my team socialised with them. Day after day we stayed, ate and rehearsed together just like a family. They usually are very arrogant because they don’t get the love and respect they deserve. They do things which are very loud and irritating actually, so we try to avoid them. They do these for nothing but attention. But it wasn’t very difficult for us to work with them. This was possible because they were overwhelmed with all the love, respect and treatment they received from us. They crave for nothing but love. And even if they get a pinch of it, they give back so much love in return. We organised workshops as most of the cast in the movie are non-actors and they worked very well. I must say they’re amazingly cooperative and hard working. The recognition and acceptance they got from the movie, gave them enormous joy. They found new meaning of life. The ones who weren’t a part of the film, came and asked for roles, even a small one and did them with very little stipend.
What is Nagarkirtan all about?
Nagarkirtan is a very deep and sincere love story. The movie is not based on any gender or transgender issue in that way. While watching the movie you’ll be so lost in the love of Puti (Riddhi) and Madhu (Rittwik) that you’ll forget between whom the love is happening. Rather your heart will ache for him. You will remember nothing about gender. So, through the movie if this comfort zone can be created, where love can be pronounced and seen as love in the homophobic society that will be the victory of us.
One after another national award, starting from Swabdo to Nagarkirtan! How does it feel?
Every time it feels wonderful! It is not like this, that it is okay to not get, it really matters. One has to understand the pulse of the period to be on the right track.
Any message for the audience?
Let love survive. Watch the movie Nagarkirtan and try to understand the crisis of their lives. The trans-people are just like us. They too belong to the society. Don’t ignore them. They just want to be loved and respected. Do that once and you’ll get way more in return. You’ll see that the world is really beautiful.