Shyam (12) and Babru (11) are brothers who hail from a normal middle-class family. Noticing that their elder son is feminine in mannerisms, the parents get caught in social dilemma. When all their efforts of “correcting” Shyam seem to go in vain, the couple decide to send him away from family. However, the young boy Babru stands by his brother and shows courage to fight not just his parents but also the society.
That’s the storyline of Marathi film Koti that will be screened at National Film Archive of India on December 20 at 3 pm. Among other prominent personalities, the screening will be attended by nearly 200 transgenders from Pune and Shirur.
Through the story of Shyam, the film, which has done the rounds of International Film Festival of India (IFFI) under Indian Panorama section and Kolhapur International Film Festival 2015, throws light on the struggles in a transgender’s life.
“When Rajesh Durge (writer of Koti) narrated the story to me, it touched my soul. I could connect with it. About two years ago, I myself had come across a boy like the character Shyam in a village where one of my family members worked as a doctor. I got to know that the boy’s parents would often beat him up for ‘behaving like a girl’. One day, just to threaten his parents, he poured kerosene on himself and lit a matchstick. However, he accidentally caught fire and suffered so much burns that he succumbed to injuries. This made me wonder how under societal pressures, parents disown their own children if he is a transgender,” says Suhaas Bhosale, director of the film that was shot in April in Ralegan Siddhi and Shirur district. The film stars Aadnyesh Mudshingakar, Divyesh Medge, Vinita Kale and Sanjay Kulkarni. It is produced by Pune-based Dr Santosh Pote.
The director says that it was during filming of Koti that his own perspective towards transgenders underwent a sea change. While earlier he would get intimidated in their presence, he has now built a rapport with them.
“When we accept a boy as a boy and a girl as a girl, why can’t we accept a transgender the way he is. Because they are not accepted in society like normal people, they are forced to resort to prostitution or begging. It’s heartbreaking to think how a small child is given to transgenders by parents because he is ‘unfit’ for their society,” says 39-year-old Bhosale, who has 15 years of theatre experience.
Besides, he has also worked in various short films, TV serials and films as technical director in the past. Koti is his debut Marathi film as a director.
The screening of Koti at NFAI will be attended by Girish Bapat, Guardian Minister for Pune, and renowned transgender activist and social worker Laxmi Narayan Tripathi as special guests, among other personalities.