Gender and self - The New Indian Express

Gender and self

Published: 10th December 2012 12:36 PM

Last Updated: 10th December 2012 12:36 PM

Two men can neither beget a child, nor adopt. Then what does a gay couple do when caught by the intense desire to have a child? Rudra Chatterjee (Rituparno Ghosh), a choreographer in a drama-troupe and one of the twosome, takes the tougher decision to undergo a gender transition - to be a woman - so as to make their wish come true.

‘Chitrangada - The Crowning Wish’ by Rituparno Ghosh sketches the emotional and psychological conflicts that grips Rudra, who decides to become a woman. The film also has a subplot based on Tagore’s character Chitrangada, who is born as a girl and brought up like a boy by her father, the King of Manipur as a fulfillment of his wish to have a male heir. Later, when obsessed by the love for Arjuna, Chitrangada longs to be like a woman and her dilemma too is knit well into the plot of the movie.

The director has succeeded in sketching gender dilemma in a hard-hitting way in the film. Rather than the decision of the individual, several factors contribute to it. Family, of course is at the forefront in expressing disapproval. Though they cannot come to terms with their only son’s decision at first, they do not reject him. Yet, the thing that made him dare to do the act, his partner and his attitude matter. The pain and suffering he has undergone is nullified by the partner who calls him a ‘synthetic’ one. It draws attention to similar news items which have hit the headlines many times before, the dejection and humiliation suffered by the person from their partner after changing sex.

The film calls for thinking and revisiting decisions for people caught in identity conflicts borne out by their gender.

Rudra has not completely transformed into the opposite gender; a few more surgeries are left to be done on his body to completely convert him into a woman. Amid conflicting thoughts, his conscience wants him to be a ‘vivacious, energetic, eccentric and creative dancer’, be it in manhood or womanhood. Even while writhing in pain, his attempts to dance highlights this. Finally, when Rudra decides to have a new ‘life’, it becomes the celebration of the one’s being than the victory of gender.

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