I watched the movie ‘Chandigarh kare Aashiqui’ which is definitely a conversation starter. It is heartening to see filmmakers and directors coming forward to work on such controversial and taboo topics. For a society that has always identified gender with the sex of an individual, this is a difficult meal to digest. And no one, absolutely no one can know what it feels like until the person is in that situation.
As a teacher I have seen 3 of my students, 2 girls and a boy, struggling with the gender identity crisis. While one of them was bold enough to run away from home when she ( now a he) was 16 and seek the help of NGOs who helped, I saw the lives of the other 2 disintegrating due to lack of support from parents and other family members.
When I moved into the corporate world, I have seen one of our employees transition. She (then a he) had very supportive friends and colleagues. There were many adjustments that had to made in the workplace from the use of toilets and change rooms to sometimes having the difficult conversation with her about some work related issues. But it was all handled very gently. As she moved into the last phase of her transition she decided to take time off from work as she needed more time to herself. When the transition was complete, she shared her latest photos with her colleagues. That was the level of comfort she enjoyed.
This movie has been well made and the subject handled with great finesse. There are indications from the very beginning that this female protagonist is different – the pills, the laser treatment, the awkwardness around the transgenders on the street, etc. The reaction of her boyfriend and his family also very natural in the given circumstances – these are topics that are generally avoided and there is very little information out there about them. The final reconciliation and Manu winning the competition by lifting weights he has never lifted before is quite symbolic.
There are some great takeaways from this movie. The first is the message of acceptance of individuals of all kinds. It is not easy but it is not impossible either. And the second is that education and awareness is the key. When we make informed and educated decisions, we often make the right ones. And third is to listen to the heart. If the connections are built there, then nothing else matters.
The stars have played their parts well and so have the supporting cast. I would recommend this movie.