Highlighting parental support to children with gender identity issues
A family of three, Leela, Raju and their son Abbu, live in a small beautiful village deep in the lower Himalayas. Abbu struggles with his secret gender identity while Raju is stricken by loss and failure.
Despite enduring an abusive marriage, Leela is trying to find a way to deal with survival issues. But amidst this chaos, when she discovers the feminine inclinations of her son, instead of rebuking him, she subtly accepts him but asks him to live like her.
This is the central plot of the film Chupi Roh (Stay Quiet), which deals with gender issues and domestic abuse with a lot of sensitivity.
Speaking about the film, which has been selected under Indian Panorama (Non-feature Film) section, director, Disha Bhardwaj says, the inspiration for the film came from a conversation she had with her mother back in her village.
“During Covid, I had a conversation with my mother about different issues that we never spoke about when I was growing up. During the course of our conversation, we spoke about her school batchmate, who was a bit different, having little feminine inclinations,” Bhardwaj says.
He was pressurised into getting married and later he committed suicide. My mother will be 70 in a few years and this was the first time I heard her speak about him as she tried to understand what must have gone wrong at that time,” she says.
This inspired her to tell a story through her film on this sensitive subject in a rural space to give representation to such stories, without becoming judgmental whether it is right or wrong.
Although the film’s protagonist is the son, but actually, the highlight of the film is the mother’s character, who is strong yet caring.
“The mother, Leela is a strong woman, and also very accepting, who is on one hand bearing the brunt of her husband’s toxicity and abuse, but also empathising with his emotions, which are an outcome of his frustration caused by his disability. At the same time she understands her son, who is very young and exploring his gender identity,” she says.
And when she is confronted by her son for suffering in silence, she does not wish to escalate the matter.
“It is a very difficult situation for Leela, trying to maintain a balance in her everyday life. That is how she functions. Even when she tries to understand her son’s gender identity issues by accepting the situation, she knows that it won’t be accepted in the society because of the taboo attached to it and that he might be bullied. Hence she tells her son again – Chupi Roh!” the young director says.
Her film has triggered a lot of conversation amongst her peer group and others who have seen her film.
“They have come to me and spoken about their experiences or about their friends and family. So, this film in a way does represent the emotions of people in the LGBTQ spectrum, including children. But I really want to say that the child is not a transgender. He is still very young and exploring his inclinations,” the director says.
“If a kid wants to put on nail paint, or a head scarf let it be. It does not necessarily mean the child is transgender and hence parents should not start pushing the panic button rather, understand their child’s needs,” she says.
“Being an ally, I feel that we should be more open towards the whole spectrum of LGBTQIA+ people because their issues are important. It does not take much to be kind & to understand. If somebody likes to explore something, let them do it instead of shaming them,” Bhardwaj says.
Courtesy: Herald goa
Note: This news piece was originally published in heraldgoa.in and used purely for non-profit/non-commercial purposes exclusively for Human Rights.