A HOME FOR MY HEART
Sankha | India | 90min
Euro 81,000.00 (Eighty-One Thousand Euro)
Euro 25,000.00 (Twenty-Five Thousand Euro)
An intimate portrayal of Sudeb, whose decision to undergo Sex Reassignment Surgery creates turmoil in her family. She remains undeterred though. As love remains elusive as always, she realizes that the surgery doesn’t change her destiny as a transwoman, forcing her to reconcile with the reality, both inside and outside.
Sudeb hails from a small-town bordering Bangladesh. After years of confusion and conflict, her parents eventually accepted ‘him’ as ‘she’. But they still bear anxiety of a social backlash, particularly for their younger son Raju, for whom they are looking for a match. Raju however, is an open mind and has always supported Sudeb in pursuing her dreams. Sudeb is a straightforward, transparent and sensitive person. After graduating, she started working with non-profits on LGBTQ advocacy. A decade ago, she shifted to a Kolkata suburb where she met the love of her life Ismail, an uneducated fruit trader. Their friendship and love grew strong over time. Yet, the affair remained grossly asexual, as Ismail didn’t like her ‘male’ body. In 2017, following a tiff with Ismail, Sudeb went to Mumbai for Gender Affirmative Surgery with an expectation to win him back. Soon, she got the most profoundly desired female genital. But shockingly, Ismail’s behavior didn’t change. She felt betrayed and the relationship fell apart completely. The joy of achieving her long cherished dream is subdued with the pain of losing her love.
As the desire for using her female genitalia takes over, Sudeb falls for a neighbor called Kalo. She has her first vaginal sex with Kalo, albeit a dissatisfactory one. Sudeb blames Ismail for this tragic experience realizing she still loves him and she desires only him in her life. That soon leads to the breaking off her affair with Kalo. Back home, her parents find a match for Raju, but he refuses to marry. Upon investigating, Sudeb finds that Raju bears a deep-rooted fear and anxiety over her trans identity. It shatters Sudeb. She stops visiting her parents. She resumes her regular job of LGBTQ rights activism. She goes to Delhi to protest against the newly drafted Transgender Bill 2019, which has clauses that are detrimental to their fundamental rights. Around this time, she is offered a short fiction film where she will play a female character. She considers this as recognition of her transformed femininity.
A year later, she meets Alex, a young European photographer who has come to Kolkata with a project on people with alternative sexuality. Sudeb works with Alex as a resource person. Over time, they become close friends. Sudeb falls for him, knowing very well that this relationship is one-sided and will never mature. But this new situation also releases her emotional longing for Ismail and she feels free of a burden called unfulfilled love.
Ten years ago, while making my first film (‘Dui Dhuranir Golpo’ / ‘In-between Days’) with the transgender community in Kolkata, my aim was to explore the idea of ‘womanhood’ through their eyes. While making ‘A Home for My Heart’ with Sudeb, who has formally become a ‘woman’ through SRS, I was curious to know how people accept her.
The film also deals with the personal, psychological and social vulnerability experienced by transgender individuals undergoing transition. While in some respects, SRS is like any other surgery, but in reality it is not. Surgically transitioning from one’s assigned gender involves a number of legal steps. An account of these steps appears in the newly passed Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2019. The bill itself has been criticized on many issues like subjecting trans people to a long-drawn and potentially dehumanizing sex determination process, rousing protest from the community. However, as SRS becomes legal and the cost of the surgery is reduced significantly, we see a spurt of such cases in recent years without having any clear understanding of the gravity of its consequences on the body and the mind.
After more than two decades of struggle in generating awareness on the LGBTQ+ issues, trans-people are more visible in today’s society. But does it show the real picture of the deep-rooted anxiety and apathy people bear inside their subconscious towards them? I have tried to plunge myself under the skin and explore the layers of complexities the trans- people have with the society, their continuous yearning for being loved and appreciated.
Expected date of completion:
Gap Finance, Distribution and Festivals
Sankhajit Biswas (Sankha, b.1975) has done 3-year Postgraduate Diploma in Editing in Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute, Kolkata and has participated in Berlinale Talent Campus 2010.
Films, both documentaries and fictions, edited by him are screened in major international festivals including Berlin, Toronto, IDFA, Busan, Hong Kong, DokLeipzig, Museum of Modern Arts (MOMA, NY), Museum of Moving Images (NY) and won several national and international awards. Apart from India, he has edited films from Nepal, Bangladesh and Malaysia.
He turned to direction with ‘Dui Dhuranir Golpo’ (In-between Days, 58 minutes, HD, 2012), a documentary on the transgender community of Kolkata. It was premiered in CPH:DOX 2012 (in Competition for Amnesty Award) and screened in Yamagata (New Asian Currents), Docpoint Helsinki, Astra Film Festival (International Competition), Vancouver Queer Film Festival and won Best Documentary Award in Kolkata International Film Festival 2014. It was also broadcast in RAI3 (Doc3), VPRO, YLE Digital and NDTV24X7.
His second documentary ‘The Wind in the Maruwa Field’ (52 minutes, HD, 2015) produced by Films Division, Govt. of India, was selected in prestigious Indian Panorama and screened in IFFI Goa 2016. It narrates the life of Totos, one of the smallest indigenous tribes of India.
‘Longra’, (26 minutes, HD, 2019) a documentary produced by PSBT and Doordarshan, was awarded Best Cinematography Award in International Documentary & Short Film Festival, Kerala 2019. The film tells the story of a small tribal village in Nagaland where people takes progressive steps to leave Slash-n-Burn Cultivation to save environment.
Presently, he is making his first feature length documentary ‘A Home for My Heart’ (previous title ‘Metamorphosis’), scheduled to be completed in late 2020. It has been mentored and pitched in forums like Dhaka Doc Lab 2017, Docedge Kolkata 2019 and Goodpitch India 2020.