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Public Voices September 24, 2007

Posted by humsafar in 68 pages, Brinelle D’Souza, counsellor, gay couple, indian gay, Indian transsexual, SNDT University, transsexual.
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(Comments by the audience at the GB Film Fest preview at National College Bandra)

“I think the movie was brilliant, good going, especially the character of Paayal was mind blowing”
~ Dr. Zaheer

“The programme was good. Need more such programmes dealing with problems with people who are married and gays.”
~ Romit Mukherjee

“I loved the movie… great performances; tell the people of the world that we do exist.”
~ Shailesh Panwalakar

“This film not only reflects the issue, but also preached humanity through the character of Mansi, the world requires it.”
~ Amit

“Realistic, sensitive, motivating and practical”
~ Shailesh Thakur

“Awesome, super acting, should be shown to the entire world.”
~ Mangesh Gawde

“Very beautifully made film. I do hope it can reach out to more and more people.”
~ Alok Agarwal

“Very sensitively made movie. The counselor should have been (technically speaking) little more detached and neutral.”
~ Dr. Arindam Basu

“The film was beautifully made well effort. BRAVO”
~ Ashish Verma

“Excellent story cast and characters. Keep it on all the best.”
~ Rohan

“Great effort all the best”
~ Ameya

“Beautifully scripted and crafted. Moving film. Congrats”
~ Anant. V

(Audience reactions from the couple of previews held recently)

“The film is a sensitive and touching portrayal of marginalized communities.”
~ Dr. Rajeev Jerajani, psychiatrist

“I screen hundreds of films in this preview theatre but hardly watch them. Today, I just started watching and saw the entire film and had tears in my eyes.”
~ Projectionist, Star preview theatre, Mumbai

“Good Job…Good Performances”
~ Bindu Madhav Khire, Samapathik Trust, Pune

“Excellent Performances” ~ Sujal, a viewer

“Good Potential for mainstream”
~ Sanjay Thakur, a viewer

“Outstanding” ~ Kevin Menezes, a viewer

“I had actually come to attend another function at this venue but I did not leave the auditorium when I started seeing this film even though I realized my mistake. The film says a lot about HIV positive people.”
~ a viewer

“Your film is a slap on the face of society.”
~ Gitanjali Dhulekar, a viewer

“Never realized that people like Umrao exist in society. Umrao’s character is amazing.”
~ Avinash Mehto, Head of Avi Creations, an edit set-up

“The film was so compelling that I had to come for the second screening too”
~ Abhijit Aher, a viewer

“This film has inspired me and I want to become a counselor.”
~ Umang Sheth, a viewer

“For the first time, there’s a film that recognizes the efforts of counselors.”
~ Kalpita Patil-Lanjekar, a counselor

“In one stroke, you have made counselors more important than doctors and destroyed the myth that only doctors can help”
~ Dr. Maninder Setia, Ph.D. student at McGill University, Montreal

“The discrimination shown in the film is so real. We have seen it all and lived it all.”
~ Dr. Hemangi Jerajani, Head of the Department, Skin and Dermatology, LTMG Hospital, Mumbai

“A sensitive portrayal of a real-life counselor and a true profile of a TISS student.”
~ Brinelle D’Souza, professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai

“Extremely touching and sensitive, the film deals with issues of HIV positive people in a real manner.”
~ Rita Sonawat, Head of the Department, Human Development, SNDT University, Mumbai

“I am grateful to Rita m’am for bringing me along to watch this film. It should be made mandatory viewing for all youth in the country.”
~ a student of SNDT University

“There are many times when I have gone home from work and cried for the pain of my counselees. And this film reflects my feelings.”
~ Rajashree, a counselor

“V. Good ! an eye opener ! Good educational film”
~ Kanchan Karani, a viewer

“The film is an eye-opener to the kind of good work being done with HIV positive people.”
~ Rekha Shah, a viewer

“Four years of my life flashed in front of my eyes. I thought I was reliving my life at Humsafar once again.”
~ Vrushali Deshmukh, ex-counseling head at The Humsafar Trust, Mumbai, the woman on whose experiences the film is based

GB fest viewer feedback September 22, 2007

Posted by humsafar in Gay Bombay GB.
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Feedback by a viewer at GB film fest:

68 Pages – the Humsafar Trust movie

I watched this movie a few hours ago at a Gay Bombay film show at National College, Bandra, Mumbai.

A sensitive portrayal of “minorities” and issues most Indians would rather brush under the carpet. The movie is “on your face” without being apologetic about it. The characters have been played by superb actors and all, except Uday Sonawane, are professional stage artists. Uday has acted very well indeed and should seriously take up acting.

It does not paint a pretty picture of either the gay community or the lives of cross dressers. It does not sugar-coat the harshness of HIV. And therein lies its beauty. It does take some dramatic licenses on the role of the counselor – no mental health professional can afford to get so close to her patients. Nor are HIV test reports handed over to people without pre-counseling. But these minor aberrations can be excused considering that the movie has to move on.

All in all, a great movie for the thinking audience.

(an excerpt)

Preview for counselors at PSI September 22, 2007

Posted by humsafar in 68 pages, counselors, MSM, PSI.
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“Thank you for the wonderful movie. Below is the feedback from our counselors and team members. We are glad to hear that it will be screened during trainings for SACS counselors. It is a good tool to reach out to a lot of people working in this field. I hope you will soon have the sub-titled version, so that we can have an opportunity to screen it to our team members in South India.”
~ Gopa Khan, PSI

68 Pages
By Humsafar

This movie was screened for PSI’s Refresher training on Sept 6th , 2007 for over 25 VCT and Helpline counselors and other VCT staff members. The movie was well-received by the counselors and PSI staff. Everyone felt that it was an unusual and well made movie that provided a counselors perspective on how a counselor should ideally be non-judgemental and supportive of HIV Positive clients and be their advocate.

The key role played by “Mansi” Counselor and her perspective on her clients were shared by the PSI counselors. Most of them could relate to her role and felt it was their life being played out in the movie and the various challenges they faced with their clients.

The important aspect of the movie was how it brought characters and situations alive and made them “normal” and “real” for the general audience. Most of our clients who are CSW or transgendered clients face daily harassment and stigma and discrimination. Showing their daily lives with their families, their concerns for survival made counselors realize the challenges our clients face. The discrimination faced by “Payal” in the hospital by a nurse bought to the fore the challenges the clients face with the burden of being HIV Positive.

“Kiran” and his partners role was greatly appreciated by the counselors. Such movies help bring out sexuality issues in the open and remove the stigma associated with MSM clients. The breakdown in the relationship between the couple was well defined and the poignant moment when the counselor reveals “Kirans” HIV status and the counselor’s and the client’s grief in dealing with the unexpected test result.

The other touching episode was the role of the BMC sweeper, who was an unknown person, who succumbs to his illness and the guilt the counselor faced of being so close but not reaching out to the client before it was too late.

Humsafar’s effort to bring all these roles of people together is commendable and we all feel that such a movie will not only make a huge difference in counselors, health workers and in their approach in dealing with our clients with humanity but also bring about a sea-change in the general populations attitude towards a sex worker, a transgender or a MSM client. All the characters depicted in the film makes one realize that anyone can get infected –a sex worker , MSM , a sweeper or a person working in an MNC. If this point comes across to the general population, anyone into risk behaviour would be less complacent. We hope this movie will be screened to all healthworkers, doctors, counselors and the general population. An incredible movie much needed today.

Thank-you Humsafar for bringing out such a wonderful and strong movie with a message for all.

Comment by a viewer September 15, 2007

Posted by humsafar in 68 pages, abhijit, counsellor, HIV/AIDS, song.
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Comment posted by Abhijit, a viewer:

I got an opportunity to be part of screening of the film “68 Pages”

It is a unique experience revealing true life picture of the HIV epidemic. The story captures the life of five different individuals who are HIV positive and presents the trauma of their lives and also the trauma faced by one woman who is trying to make difference in their lives. It was an eye opener since I have interacted with HIV positive people very closely. The film creates a perfect balance between drama and light scenes that ensures audience’s attachment with the characters and you become more concerned about their lives.

Some may feel that its not commercial cinema but I would rate it as an intelligent commercial cinema. I would be bothered about the success of this movie since it has immense capacity to make valuable difference in lives of general population and professionals.

A melodies song of the movie (Nikle the akele ab sang kitne paao hai) acts as an anchor and takes you on a journey of happiness, concerns, worries and the decisions that each character made from starting to end. This movie touches several aspects like complications in relationships as they are not open, unspoken and hidden human bonding, importance of psychosocial support and positive living.

Sridhar and Vivek as story writers have carefully developed the graph for each character. The performances of the actors were quite convincing and special kudos to Jayati Bhatia for bringing inner most feelings of a prostiture along with cross Dresser (Uday), counselor (Mauli Gangurly), and the gay couple (Joy and Sherrin ) The dialogues were meaningful. Especially when the cross dresser tells the Counselor “Pyar to sabko mangta hai naa” or the prostitute expresses her desire “Doctor to nahi banaaongi, usey to main aap jaisa banaungi!”. The film does not stereotype the gay couple or make mockery of the cross dresser. The roles are devised close the real life individuals.

The movie not only creates an awareness about the trauma of HIV postive people also gives hope to fight with the disease and lead a normal life.

In today’s world with so much stress and tension the film talks about each one of us having a “worry tree” like Mansi’s Diary and her 68 Pages

Director’s Note September 7, 2007

Posted by humsafar in 68 pages, humsafar trust, sridhar rangayan.

Making this film has been a cathartic process and also a realization of one’s own shortcomings.

We are all so caught up in the whirligig of our careers, relationships and life in general that we have forgotten to pause and look at the person next to us – at an airport or café or on the streets – or for that matter even paused to see ourselves. A line in this film’s song sums it up tragically – ‘Everyone is so distant nowadays; one’s own shadow seems a stranger’.

So it’s no surprise that we hardly know or care about those who are stigmatised and marginalized – a transsexual, a commercial sex worker or just a street sweeper outside our house. We know nothing about them, apart from stereotypical notions.

We have tried, in this film, to give a voice to some of the people ignored by the society or misunderstood by us around. We felt it was perhaps time to listen to them, peep into their world of tears and trauma and discover their happiness and hopes.

This film is certainly made with a purpose – of bringing some of the stories that we have not cared to stop by and look, into focus. It is not a bugle call for action, but just a soft reminder to pause and reflect and make an effort to understand.

Maybe we can all wipe a tear, hold a hand… or maybe write the next 68 Pages.

~ Sridhar Rangayan, 2007

Director: Sridhar Rangayan

Sridhar Rangayan has consistently combined entertainment with social issues to make sensible cinema, which has brought him international acclaim. His debut short Gulabi Aaina (The Pink Mirror) about Indian drag queens was banned in India, but became a huge festival success, winning several awards. His feature ‘Yours Emotionally!’ pushed the boundaries even further by being one of the few films to ‘give a clear and concise picture of gay Indian life with great emotion and honesty’ (Amos Lassen on Amazon). His recent film ‘68Pages’ is a searing portrayal of five different people who are stigmatised and discriminated by society.

Filmography: Gulabi Aaina (2003), Chakkad Bakkad Bumbe Bo (2004)
Yours Emotionally! (2006), 68 Pages (2007)

Sridhar Rangayan’s wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sridhar_Rangayan
Company url: http://www.solarispictures.com/