Tathagata Ghosh on ‘Miss Man’: I haven’t put the characters in any bracket of gender or sexuality

Tathagata Ghosh directed ‘Miss Man’ which addresses homophobia through the story of a man discovering his sexuality has already received appreciation at global film festivals. The 25-minute film is the story of a young man Manab who wants to become a woman. It’s an ambitious and courageous project taken up by Tathagata and his take on alternate sexuality has a strong message for society.

There have been so many films addressing the LGBTQ issue. How ‘Miss Man’ stands apart from them, we asked the young filmmaker who has been selected at the Berlinale Talents, an annual summit and networking platform of the prestigious Berlin International Film Festival.

“I would actually quote an audience’s reaction in this respect. She saw the film and told me, “This film is not only about queer love. It shows that love can be queer.” And that has stuck with me ever since. I think she described the film perfectly. “Miss Man” is not merely an LGBTQIA+ film. It is a film that explores gender fluidity and the themes of self-discovery. I tried to go beyond binary and non-binary with our film as I was trying to find an answer to a very fundamental question- ‘Can’t we accept each other the way we are?’ Every character in our film is going through a stage of self-realization in a way,” explains Tathagata adding that, “This I think is rare. I have not put my characters in any bracket of gender or sexuality. I have studied them as human beings, irrespective of their gender, sexuality, class, caste, or creed. I haven’t seen too many films do that. Casting members from the queer community has helped me a lot as the film felt more authentic as they brought in their own lived experiences in the film. It felt like I was shooting a documentary. I grew as a filmmaker and a human being in the process.”

Will these films addressing alternate sexuality really make a difference in changing people’s mindset? A confident Tathagata says a film like ‘Miss Man’ can make a lot of difference in changing people’s mindset. “We are living in a time when compassion and empathy for each other are needs of the hour. We have to stop judging people on the basis of their gender, sexuality, religion, or caste and just accept them as a human being. The lockdown last year has really shown why we need to support each other in these tough times. It is high time to move beyond the age-old thought of ‘what people will say’ and live life the way we want to. Cinema plays a very important role here. It will help us to

start a conversation around that. Through empathy and proper representation in our storytelling, we can achieve to have that dialogue with others. Through “Miss Man”, I have done that as many have told me that their friends and family members have been sensitized after they have viewed the film. One of my own uncles, who was homophobic earlier, was in tears as he was watching the film and told me that now he understands their struggle and pain. This is the power of cinema! And I am glad ‘Miss Man’ has done its bit towards that and hopefully will keep doing that in the coming years,” signs off the young filmmaker whose next ‘Dhulo’, a 25-minute short film, follows a firebrand woman’s remarkable journey in a rural village engulfed in dirty politics.