The Compartment - An LGBTQIA+ film

By Paridhi Rathore

The world is locked down in their homes to safegaurd their own lives but people are continuing with their existential struggles. Through various mediums people assert their rights; films and media are the most popular and effective mediums to put forward both the concepts and concerns. The LGBTQIA+ movement is also one of these strong and assertive community who are through various means making themselves visible to all, to make them understand and accept their existence. We have seen mainstream Indian film industry usually using these characters in their films as fun elements, but the reality is people's harsh behaviour with them. So there are independent film makers who are working on real films on real stories.

Kashish is the biggest queer film festival in South Asia. It is the first major film festival to go online completely with a full festival lineup of new LGBTQIA+ films from across the world considering that the world is facing a crisis with the covid pandemic.

It is great to have such a platform exhibiting films on this subject. One of them is the short film 'The compartment', directed by Mr. Abhijit Suvarna.

We spoke to the director as well as the person playing the lead, Swapnil Alizeh. When asked about the film 'The compartment' they said, "It is a mute film, a story of a closeted common Indian man. The film is basically addressing his life as a conflict. There is a mask of 'being normal' that he wears everyday, bound and afraid of the rigid social dynamics of the Indian society. But within, he unleashes the fantasy and ironically the truth of who he really is."

Though after all these years of pretending to be straight, these fantasies rarely ever surface. As he remembers watching an effeminate person, who eventually became his muse. Maybe this time, he would find the courage to make his fantasy a reality. It is a non cliche movie unlike the other films. The compartment is basically a five minute fantasy short film.

We asked the director about his thought process before starting this film and how did living around in a country full of homophobia influenced him to make this film, to which he answered,

"My wife works with the Times of India and she was friends with Alizeh. They were just casually talking about the compartment which is unofficially reserved for the queer community and it's called 'two by two', they came up with the idea of this film. Hence, it is named 'The compartment.' The name is basically a metaphor for the LGBTQIA community being in a compartment; a box. The movie is basically about a non privileged common man of India. Generally, privileged voices are mostly heard. It's very rigid for these people to stay in such society and going away from the norms. So, it is a very terrible situation where one has to grow up in. So I just thought why not try and approach this issue and write something for that".

He also said that this movie is not showing the dark side of the community because that's what usually happens and they wanted to show the bright and positive side and make it a happy film.

When asked, "How do you want your movie to be inspiring the people of our country, given that we are a comparatively narrow minded nation?"

" Our aim is to make more movies and spread awareness about the queer community, sensitize them about the issues in a correct way."

We asked them, what do they think about the stereotyping of gays or transpeople particularly in mainstream film industry?

"I absolutely hate it", said Alizeh. "I personally didn't like the movie 'Shubh mangal zyada sawdhan' because it is not addressing the main issue. It is, but in a more comic way and that's not what the world needs right now. It needs to have a sensitive approach to this issue, like Shelly Chopra Dhar's movie "Ek ladki ko dekha toh aisa laga".

Alizeh in the interview accepted that the credit of the film doesn't go to them but, it's real beauty is showcased by the editors, purely. They were not entirely happy and satisfied with their own work, they thought they could've done much better. They said, "I liked the film alot because I worked really hard for it, but i could have done better. Being a basic budgeted film, there are no dialogues in it. I had this chance to showcase my talent and I wasn't completely satisfied with it."

When asked to Alizeh about their film getting screened at Kashish, they said,

"I felt good, but also bad. If covid would not have existed, it would've been a very big deal for me. When Times of India happened in my life and my hoarding was released near Haji Ali, I was taken aback! I never thought that I would be in that hoarding. I was grateful for everything. Now we are hoping for the best and looking forward for positive responses fron the audience".

Paridhi Rathore is an Intern with The Colourboard, currently she is persuing her Bachelors of Mass Media in Mumbai.


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