Please Mind The Gap: Understanding the third gender

Mitali Trivedi’s short documentary film takes a look at the third gender’s journey for identity and dignity in our society

Please Mind The Gap: Understanding the third gender
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Pragati Saxena

When I am with a girlfriend, I first see how the security personnel are frisking people at metro stations, then opting for the men’s section. My girlfriends often ask me why I leave them just at the entrance of metro stations,” Anshuman, a third gender person, laughs while speaking.

In the laughter, is hidden a deep anguish and dilemma. It is difficult to understand and see life as a third gender because this world broadly is made, run and inhabited by two prominent genders - male and female.

Pursuing her M Phil in gender studies, researching on her topic ‘Sports and intersexual athletes,’ Mitali Trivedi suddenly started pondering on how the world treats the third gender? How do they cope with daily challenges? How do they see themselves in this world defined by the male and the female? “I travel in the metro a lot. I was fascinated by the visuals it provides, it has its own world and mechanism. Delhi Metro is a world within this world. The life of a third gender person too is an island within our society. I wanted to explore them bot,” says Mitali.

Her short film, succinctly titled Please Mind the Gap, takes a look not only at the third gender’s journey for identity and dignity in our society, it also reflects various facets of Metro and our society in transit as well

That’s how the proposal of the documentary, Please Mind The Gap, was prepared and submitted to Public Service Broadcasting Trust (PSBT). “It took us (Mitali and her co director Gagandeep Singh) one and a half years to complete this 20-minute- long film,” she quips, “because we did not know anything about filmmaking but I had seen many short films in PSBT’s Open Frame Film Festival and I really wanted to make a film on this topic which no one talks about or everyone just avoids talking about.” The film has long and impressive shots of the Metro and Metro stations. In one of the shots, Anshuman describes the Hanuman statue, “I never thought it would be so big! I always had the impression that filmwallahs show it using some special effects…But it’s really big.”

How did Mitali come to know Anshuman? “Well, it was just by chance. We were trying to make a film on public display of affection…but couples were not really interested, they were scared too…in this process, we got to meet Anshuman and he seemed a fascinating personality.” That he is. He talks casually about his growing years, the hardships he faced, the humiliation in using public toilets, the efforts he put in as a teenager to grow his breasts...And in that dispassion, the undercurrents of unspoken pain, hurt and a feeling of isolation can be felt more strongly.

Mitali plans to work further on this project in the academic sphere. She aspires to pursue her Phd in gender studies focusing on the third gender. Her short film, succinctly titled Please Mind the Gap, takes a look not only at the third gender’s journey for identity and dignity in our society, it also reflects various facets of Metro and our society in transit as well.

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