One for diversity
By Simran Ahuja
BENGALURU : A transgender mural artist, a gay songwriter, a child with special needs, a Dalit queer activist… A new music video by Sharif D Rangnekar features 30 people with different backgrounds, faith, skin tone, sexuality, age and abilities, as it shines a spotlight on diversity. “The many I’s that make up the ‘we’ and the ‘we’ that make up society. The genesis is a reality we tend to forget – I am, you are – so why is there a conflict? If you wish to be accepted, so do I,” says Rangnekar, the Delhi-based music producer of the music video I Am Who I Am, which was released on YouTube on Sept. 14.
Rangnekar, who is also the frontman of the band Friends of Linger, approached creative professionals from across India for this video, which also features filmmaker-writer Tanuja Chandra; tennis star Somdev Devvarman; mural artist-RJ Shanthi Munniswamy; singer-songwriter John Oinam; activist, artist and Mr Gay India (2016) Anwesh Sahoo; differently-abled queer femme Shivangi Agrawal; artist, curator, dancer Allen Robertson; Congolese-Punjabi couple Guelor and Preeti; Dalit queer activist Dhrubo Jyoti, among others. “Even though the topic of diversity is deep and possibly even dark, our approach is celebratory, depicting a sense of pride that each individual has for who they are,” Rangnekar says about the seven-minute song.
Shanthi Munniswamy, a city-based mural artist, RJ and blogger, who is also a transgender, says she was drawn to be a part of the video after she heard its lyrics, which go: God is the reason why, I am who I am; Nature is the reason why, I am who I am. “These lyrics are close to my heart, I can’t be changed either. The song is a coming together of beautiful human beings, all of us being proud of who we are,” says Munniswamy, who shot her portions by herself during the pandemic.
“I was sceptical to be a part of this during this time, when so many people are suffering. But maybe these lyrics can be a ray of hope in these dark times,” she says, recalling how it took her family some time to accept her. Munniswamy shared the video with them, and her brother and sister are now all smiles. “My family is now my backbone. I hope this video helps others too be more accepting towards everyone,” she adds.
The video was made in a month, with footage arriving from different places. This collaborative approach, says Rangnekar, was a reminder of beauty amid the pandemic, despite the presence of job losses and unemployment, and hate politics. He adds, “The fact that every shot was at a place and space chosen by each person, underlined the importance of space, comfort and the sense of self. That is all we need, as
that allows freedom to flourish.”
Courtesy : TNIE