Between the Lines | Chicago Reader

Between the Lines

95 minutes 2005

German filmmaker Thomas Wartmann and New Delhi photojournalist Anita Khemka comb through Bombay for this fascinating 2005 documentary on hijras, men who comport themselves as women. Although they refer to each other as “she,” the hijras regard themselves as a third gender and frequently undergo castration to express their commitment to their caste. Khemka befriends three hijras: an over-the-hill alcoholic, a captivating 18-year-old nightclub dancer, and a statuesque Brahman who plays straight at home but luxuriates in her other identity as a guru to aspiring hijras. Their ritual role as harbingers of fertility earns them income, while in Koovagam an annual festival of symbolic marriages to their bisexual lovers brings emotional and spiritual release. In English and subtitled Hindi.

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