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One out of ten June 24, 2007

Posted by qmediawatch in Gay & Lesbian, Indian Express, Television.
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SOURCE: Indian Express Mumbai Newsline

An orthodox Tam-Brahm girl agrees to meet a typical Punjabi boy as their parents match-make, little knowing that the two have more in common than they know themselves. They are both gay and looking for a way out. Their marriage of convenience is only one of the twists in this complex tale of queer love and longing in India.

Aarthi Parthasarathy’s pilot episode for an Indian gay sitcom, One Out of Ten, may not be as high-budget or glossy as the UK cult gay sitcom, Queer as Folk, or the USA’s trendy lesbian serial , The L Word, but it certainly had a full house at a private screening in Bandra last weekend.

A graduate from Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore, Parthasarathy has returned to her hometown with hopes of making movies here. “This was my first big venture in film and it took everything out of me. Now that it’s made and is getting screened, I’m not sure how I am going to make the next part of what I hope will become a 13-episode sitcom,” says the 22-year-old.

Getting airtime on TV for the serial may be moot dream for Parthasarathy right now but she certainly is enjoying the feedback her screenings are getting her. “This may be the beginning of India’s own queer cult serial, passed down from hand to hand,” says independent filmmaker Shaina Anand, who has Parthasarathy currently editing her five-part film on Mumbai.

At the screening, many members in the audience could identify with the protagonists of the sitcom, especially Ravi, whose mother is after him to get married. “My mom is just like the lady in the serial, constantly planning my wedding and looking out for girls, I dread the day when I will have to come out to her,” says Kunal. Vickram agrees that it’s a slice of life for any queer person in India and hopes to screen it at one of the Gay Bombay film festivals.

“The actors were perfect and I couldn’t have cast better. In fact, they’ve committed themselves to the other 12 episodes too. Location hunting will be a problem, since I see myself settling in Mumbai for the next few years,” says Parthasarathy who wrote, directed and funded the film. While it remains to be seen how the rest of the serials get made, we hope the ‘private’ screenings turn public soon.


Fighting Prejudice June 24, 2007

Posted by qmediawatch in Transgender.
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Fighting prejudice

“I am trying to clear the misconceptions that people have about transgenders and Kotis. As we tend to be at the fringes of the society, everything negative is attributed to us. I was a victim of discrimination once. After being equipped with a voice, I have made it a mission to help those who are as clueless about their rights as I once was,”says Sarkar who claims that his stint with various NGOs helped him understand his rights. “ Five years ago I was a different person. I was constantly in fear of being victimised. Which probably embittered me too. But slowly I realised that I need to have confidence in myself. If I don’t respect myself , nobody else will,” claims Sarkar.

The middle sex
Amitava’s journey of self-discovery has taken him to the so-called underbelly of the society. The dismal life of hijras and kotis disillusioned this young social worker. “In my efforts to empower those who have little acceptance in the society, I have had the privilege to interact with those whom we are most happy to ignore, hijras. Though they lead a sad, stigmatised existence, most of these people are full of life and hope,” states Sarkar who regularly visits hijra colonies to propagate safe sex and other health precautions. “Many of them resort to prostitution but have no knowledge about the precautions to be taken and the risk of HIV,” says Sarkar.

Kolkata and beyond
Sarkar’s work takes him to small towns around the city. And wherever he goes he makes it a point to disseminate confidence and knowledge to his transgender sisters. “Towns like Burdwan and Balasore (Orissa) have a sizable transgender population. Many a time they don’t need to be made aware of health related issues. Sometimes we just sit and share experiences, which I think is very important, because only through exchange of ideas can knowledge be properly disseminated,” says Sarkar.

The indifferent straight world
“ The most frustrating thing for any sexual minority is to be misunderstood,” says Sarkar. The mainstream society, according to him, is blinded by misconceptions. “Which is why I ask my fellow transgenders to make it a point to talk and reason with those who show contempt. After all, even they are victims of ignorance,” sums up Sarkar.