Film Roohi: On Love And Things That Matter

It’s 2018, and we still have movies that use the queer community as nothing but comic relief for a scene that may be too intense. In such a space, with the recent descriminalisation ruling, a lot of us tend to lose hope of the society changing even though the law has moved on. In this space, the independent film industry has taken it upon themselves to narrate true stories in earnest voices- so that at least there, we can see narratives of people that are like us. Roohi is one such film and we talked to the writer and director of the film, Charmi Trevadia about Roohi and the experience around it.

Q. Where did the idea of creating a film like Roohi initially come from?

The idea of Roohi came from a conversation with friends of the rainbow community who were considering if they wanted to come out of the closet in the Pride Month 2 years ago. Until then, I was a person scared of asking for permission to go for a solo holiday and it sort of put things in perspective for me. I was worried about a holiday and there were people who I called my own who were worried about survival just because of the way they were born.

Nayan and I go back a long way and we met up to discuss other work but ended up discussing this issue. Soon enough, we decided to write a film portraying angst, love, and acceptance. It’s what I wanted for everyone who came out to me and talked to me about their struggles at the time when I was keen on learning more about the experiences of LGBTQIA folks, people like you and me, who were trying hard to come to terms with their identities and lives.

Q. Why did you choose to do a film based on lesbian women?

When I was learning more from my friends about their lives, a lot of them said trans and lesbian people didn’t have enough representation. A lot of us refer to LGBTQIA folks as gay. It is used as an umbrella term, but there aren’t enough places where two women live and love together except a straight man’s browser. I wanted to change that and tell a story I imagined could happen if people were a little kinder to each other through the love story of two women.

Q. Why did you choose to narrate the story from the side of the father of one of the women?

Typically, daughters and fathers are close. Much as been said and shown about a father giving his daughter away to a deserving man but what about the women who have chosen women? Would their father’s be accepting of it? It’s a question I have explored as a woman first, second as a filmmaker. I heard of a story from one of my friends about a lesbian couple who fought hard to come out, battle the society and be with each other. I have often wondered what it would mean to them for their fathers to write them a letter like Roohi’s father. He understands the importance of a partner of your choice in the absence of Roohi’s mother; how can we force our daughters, sisters, and friends to be with someone they are naturally wired to reject and spend their whole lives being someone they aren’t?

Q. What’s next? What are some of the other topics you’re planning to cover as a writer and film-maker?

The journey has just begun and I am essentially gunning for representation. As a straight woman, I can now see the privilege I have been born into and raised with. I intend to bring different voices of human interest to the mainstream with my writing, be it articles or films. Divorced women, trans people, abused men, lovers of every kind; there are so many stories that lurk in the shadows of the society, waiting to be told. All I want is for my writing to make at least one person think. A thinking society inspires action and change

You can watch Roohi on Youtube.

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Jo Krishnakumar is a trans queer researcher interested in all things sex, sexuality, gender and how different groups/people experience these wor(l)ds. Their work is informed by their constant learning/unlearning of the privileges they have due to their social location as a dominant/oppressive caste person (Nair) while also occupying space as a (mentally) disabled trans person of colour. Find them on their unfinished webspace

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