PLEASE MIND THE GAP – A FILM ON LGBT IN PSBT DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL AT INDIA INTERNATIONAL CENTRE, NEW DELHI
After the Supreme Court judgment about Article 377, many filmmakers of India have started to make films on LGBT. Earlier also these films were made but in a very small way. One could get to see such films only in International Film Festivals and that too foreign films. There was one film called, “Fire” produced and directed by Mira Nair. This film was first time shown in International Film festival of India held 20 years ago. I saw this film as a regular delegate of IFFI 1998 at Thiruvanantpuram. The film was based on lesbian relation between Shabana Azmi and NanditaDass.
Mira Nair came on the stage to introduce the film,which is customary in any IFFI, she was very nervous and openly admitted that I am nervous because I am not sure what is going to be the reaction of the audience in India after watching my film. She further said that my film has got lot of acclaim abroad, but here I am keeping my fingers crossed. After screening of the film, Mira was thrilled to see the audience response. There was tremendous applaud and clapping continued for a long time. Everybody congratulated Mira and tried to shake hands with Mira as a token of appreciation. In this film when the two daughter in laws staying in the joint family did not get any love /sexual pleasure from their respective husbands, they are forced to become lesbians rather than seeking sexual pleasure from the out world, which could be far more disgusting and damaging for the honor of the joint family.
PSBT (Public Service Broadcasting Trust) had a package of short films engaging with sexualities, many of them made by first time filmmakers, which explore the intersectional and diverse experiences of gender, sexuality, identity, relationships, desire, freedom, choice and fearlessness, even as they challenge dominant assumptions and popular representations. The screenings were followed by a discussion with the eminent filmmakers Avijit Mukul Kishore and Vani Subramanian.
One such film in this category was “Please Mind The Gap”/21min/2018. This film has been shot in Delhi Metro in various lines of Metro, like, Blue, Yellow, Violet, Red and Pink line etc.The beauty of the film is that all the common public announcements, we hear in Delhi Metro have been nicely fitted into the story of the film. It is a very lively and interesting film, which keeps your interest alive throughout.
Thousands board and de board Delhi Metro, encountering many faces, expressions,voices and odors, all of which narrate a different story. This film is a journey with one such passenger, Anshuman (transgender), reclaiming public space and his own self. This film gives a brief account of problems, struggle, humiliation, the negative attitude of the society, which a transgender has to face, through the metro journey. The treatment of the subject is excellent. I had seen this film earlier in Delhi as a Jury member along with Ms. Shivani Pandey, another jury member and selected this film for 9thJagran Film Festival to be held at Mumbai at the end of this month.
After the screening of the film in the festival at IIC, New Delhi, I had the opportunity to interact with the Directors of the film, Mitali Trivedi and Gagandeep Singh.
What was the basis of making this film in Delhi Metro?
MT- We wanted to show the public display of affection in Delhi Metro, like holding hands of each other, standing very close face to face, touching each other’s body and even trying to embrace while standing on the sides of Metro compartments, etc.
Did you do any research work on LGBT, before making this film?
MT- Yes, We did lot of research .We attended lots of conferences/ events on LGBT and met various people. Ultimately, we came across Anshuman Chauhan (Transgender), the protagonist from TWEET (Trans Welfare Equity and Empowerment Trust). He gave his consent to work in the film as protagonist.
Have you been to any Film and Television Institute/ Film School before making this film?
MT- No. I have Master’s in Gender Studies from Ambedkar University, Delhi and was a research scholar at Department of Sociology in Delhi University. My co director of the film, Gagandeep Singh is a lawyer and passed out from Delhi University. We are friends and have been studying together in Delhi University. We both are amateurs. Even both the cinematographers, Manjesh Rana and Gagandeep Judge are our friends from Delhi University and did the cinematography of this film for the first time. In fact, it is a joint effort of passionate amateurs.
How much time did you take to complete the film?
MT – It took one and a half years to complete the film.
Did you have problem in shooting in the public in Metro?
MT – No, the shooting was done during day timein crowded Metros. Anshuman was given a collar/ mike and the shooting was done using Iphone.
I congratulate PSBT, the producer of the film, Mitali Trivedi, Gagandeep Singh, Anshuman Chauhan and other members of the team on the great success of their debut film. I wish them greater success of their future endeavors.