In the Press
A Report on the findings from a closed door public hearing on April 1, 2023. Organised by PUCL and National Network of LBI women and Transpersons
17th April, 2023.
The community and civil society organisations included in the Network are: Nazariya: Queer Feminist Resource Group (Delhi), Sappho For Equality (Kolkata), Sahayatrika (Thrissur), Orinam (Chennai), Raahi (Bengaluru), QT Centre (Hyderabad), Hasrat-e-Zindagi Mamuli (Mumbai), Vikalp Women's Group (Vadodara), SAATHII (pan-India), and unaffiliated individuals.
The conference was organised jointly by PUCL and the Network to present the findings of a public hearing that had recorded the testimonies of queer and trans persons facing conflict from their families.
The network consists of community and civil society organisations, including Nazariya: Queer Feminist Resource Group (Delhi), Sappho For Equality (Kolkata), Sahayatrika (Thrissur), Orinam (Chennai), Raahi (Bengaluru), QT Centre (Hyderabad), Hasrat-e-Zindagi Mamuli (Mumbai), Vikalp Women's Group (Vadodara), SAATHII (pan-India), and other unaffiliated individuals.
ಸಮುದಾಯವನ್ನು ಅವಹೇಳನ ಮಾಡುವಂತಹ ಪದಗಳನ್ನು ಸರ್ಕಾರಿ ಇಲಾಖೆಗಳನ್ನು ಬಳಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದು, ಈ ತಕ್ಷಣವೇ ತಿದ್ದಪಡಿ ಮಾಡಬೇಕು ಎಂದು ಆಗ್ರಹಿಸಿದ್ದಾರೆ ಅವರು
ಪೊಲೀಸ್ ಠಾಣೆಯ ಮೆಟ್ಟಿಲೇರುವ ಎಲ್ ಜಿ ಬಿ ಇ ಟಿ ಕ್ಯೂ ಸಮುದಾಯದ ಪ್ರರಕರಣಗಳು ಯಾವುವು? ಆ ಪ್ರಕರಣಗಳು ಹೇಗೆ ಅಂತ್ಯಗೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತವೆ ಎಂಬುದನ್ನು ತಿಳಿಯಲು ತಪ್ಪದೇ ಓದಿ
Presented by Raahi and supported by the India Foundation for the Arts’ Project 560, Freedom Begum is about the loss of inclusive public spaces in the city, specifically Bangalore. While the mourning for such spaces often centres around heritage buildings and is expressed through nostalgia for colonial architecture, very rarely do we hear from people whose lives and culture have been erased by gentrification. Through the metaphor of a house that was open and inviting, Freedom Begum mourns the death of a certain liberalism in the city.
Through anecdotes surrounding Begum Mahal, the play tells the stories of the working class and trans communities, who were also part of the cast and crew. “She was a rowdy woman,” a wealthy old man says, recounting with disdain how the woman he is referring to would recklessly park her Buick in the middle of MG Road, defiant even of the police. A working class transgender character on the same stage fondly recalls, “I’ve heard she would drive around the city in her big car like a queen.”
Freedom Begum seeks to bring the woman, who is believed to have helped both trans and working class people in Bengaluru, out of obscurity and anonymity. The play uses anecdotes of people who interacted with her, as well as the karagam and intense music, to paint a portrait of the woman, who disappeared amid mysterious circumstances
Begum Mahal is today a bus stand in Bengaluru. Neither the building nor the woman it is named after is in sight, but fond memories remain of a warm, inclusive space that welcomed everyone
Three years ago when Radhika, Rumi and Sunil started working on Freedom Mahal, what started out originally as a research project, also began exploring the possibilities of taking research into theatre.
So far, hijra families and volunteer networks have provided shelter, care, and warmth for queer and trans people in need. But the rest of society needs to step up.