To lure attention towards the countless challenges that transgenders encounter in their lives, artiste Jehangir Jani has helmed a 10-minute film, Urmi, which will be screened in the city for the first time, today. It will be followed by a discussion on the issues faced by transgenders.
“This film looks at the reactions of a rudimentary society that hasn’t evolved and everyone is made to feel that they are either men or women, and everyone else is a pervert,” shares Jani. The film tells the story of Urmi, a transgender person. She haunts public toilets and walks the streets searching for love while encountering violence from homophobic people and authorities. But one incident makes her decide to choose her real self and live it.
It has been shot in collaboration with The Humsafar Trust and is part of Urban Aspirations in Global Cities, an international collaborative project aimed at comparing post-colonial mega-cities in Asia, including Mumbai, Singapore and Shanghai, and understanding how the urban community of rapidly growing mega-cities impacts the development of urban aspirations. Researchers from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, Max Planck Institute (MPI), Germany and Partners for Urban Knowledge Action and Research (PUKAR), Mumbai, are working together on this project. Pallav Patankar, Director, HIV Programs, The Humsafar Trust, who plays the protagonist in the film says, “I have many transgender friends and colleagues. Often, I hear of their problems and I empathise with them. However, empathising and actually living out an experience are two different things.” He adds that as soon as he changed into female attire in the film, the gaze of the world changed towards him.
“The shoot on Marine Drive opened my eyes. I faced hoots, strange looks and even the police followed me. I also remember that I had to hold on going to the washroom for more than an hour because I didn’t know which washroom (gents/ladies) to use in the public toilets,” shares Patankar. He reveals how shooting during that day made him realise what transgenders have to endure, living the lives they do.