A frustrated petitioner arguing her own case before the judge blasts the state for its atrocities and double standards. As the audience in the courtroom erupts into a roar and loud applause, so does the audience sitting in one of the theaters at Cinemax, a popular multiplex in Andheri, Mumbai’s entertainment district.
This could be any other courtroom scene from a mainstream Indian drama except that the heroine the audience is cheering for is a hijra, or eunuch, named Anu (based on the real-life transgender activist Laxmi Tripathi), demanding to know why hijras aren’t allowed ration cards, even voting rights, merely because the government can’t decide which gender they belong to.
The Marathi -language film by Ramesh More,“We the Outsiders (Aamhi Ka Tisre),” is about a gay boy who gets kicked out of home by his family but finds love and protection among the hijras in Mumbai. The movie, which had its premiere at the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, picked up a jury mention for best feature film.
Courtesy of Kashish Film Festival
Kashish, which means “attraction” in Urdu, bills itself as “India’s biggest international queer film festival,” with thousands of people attending to watch 120 movies from 30 countries at the Cinemax multiplex and at the Alliance Française de Bombay from May 23 to May 27. “It was sold to the public and press not as a curiosity factor, but as any other fest with a focus on regional or French packages, poster competition, celeb jury, etc.,” says Shibu Thomas, the festival’s media adviser, who, like other volunteers, takes two weeks off from his day job as a journalist with The Times of India to help with the festival.
Sridhar Rangayan, Kashish’s festival director and founder, roughly estimates that this year’s total
This article originally appeared on: http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/02/mumbai-showcases-gay-and-transgender-films/