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Gopal Menon, director of "Let the Butterflies Fly"
Nothing queer about it

in INDIA, 13/06/2012

Chandrashekhar was all of 18 when he desired to become Shilpa, of his own volition, or rather his genes demanded it. But the transition from a man to woman became fiercely controversial after the infamous Banashankari incident when Hijras (eunuchs) were tortured at the police station.

Ace director Gopal Menon’s Let the Butterflies Fly is a peek into the Hijra community through the eyes of Shilpa. It talks about the abominable discrimination the society meted out to them for no fault of theirs.

The 74-minute story traverses through their trauma, the denial by society, their relationships and their joys. The film won the Best Film Award at the Mumbai International Queer Film Festival which concluded this week. “It seeks to convert one’s premeditated notion about the third gender into a feeling of empathy and sympathy,” Menon says, adding, “And, at the end, it throws up a friendly challenge to the society — who are we to judge what nature created?”

“Lending voices to the voiceless is the job of a documentarian, and that’s what Let the Butterflies Fly does,” says Menon. Menon’s documentaries are a standing testimony to this statement. From Papa 2 to Hey Ram: Genocide in the land of Gandhi to Naga Story, he was chasing burning issues. In turn he was being chased by controversies.

Menon who loves to wander, in search of his characters, says stories of ‘voiceless’ people are always controversial. He explains the work that one sees on screen is only the end product but the collection of raw materials, the painstaking processing and production are only known to the creator.

“They are beautiful people, just like all of us,” says Menon about transgenders. “Butterflies, in fact. Give them their freedom. Their sexual desires are different and their worlds are different. Let them live their dreams like all of us,” he says and believes the documentary will give an insight into the problems of transgenders and how society failed to comprehend them.

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