Kolkata witnessed an iconic moment when Bollywood filmmaker Ram Kamal Mukherjee visited transgender actor Shree Ghatak’s house to tie rakhi on the auspicious ceremony of Raksha Bandhan. This is probably the first time that any filmmaker showed a gesture towards gender equality by including transwoman as a part of main festivity. “Shree worked with me in Season’s Greetings, and she was introduced to me by my producer Aritra Das. She played the role of househelp Chapala in the film and garnered accolades. Thereafter she was selected for Nani and Sai Pallavi starrer period drama Singham Singha Roy in Telugu. Shree is a transwoman who is settled happily with her husband and son Shaurya in Kolkata,” says Ram Kamal.

Since Ram Kamal celebrates Rakhi in Mumbai for last 20 years, this was the first time that he was in Kolkata and decided to include Shree as a part of this grand celebration. “I am overwhelmed that Dada (Ram Kamal) came to my house on the auspicious day of Santoshi Maa puja. We both are devotees of Mata Santoshi and she was born on the day of Raksha Bandhan. Dada never discriminates and gives respect to all his team members. I have been a part of this glamour world, but I have not seen any director, who is as famous as Dada, bothered to even ask us to be a part of their festival,” rues Shree Ghatak. Incidentally, Shree has kept in touch with Celina Jaitly who played the female lead in Season’s Greetings and they share an amazing bond beyond cinema. “No one cares about us. After Dada and my south film, I am still waiting for a break in Bengali cinema. Everyone promises to meet but they never do… and those who meet comes with indecent proposals ” says Shree.

Ram Kamal recently bagged his first National Award for his hindi film Ek Duaa, that talks about gender inequality and female foeticide. Produced by Esha Deol the film created ripples at major international festivals and now the highest state honour makes it a film to reckon. “I respect the fact that Shree Ghatak is an educated trans woman, independent entrepreneur, model and actor who carved her niche amongst all odds. Today, how we are celebrating Shreegauri Sawant’s life after Sushmita Sen portrayed Sawant’s role in Taali, I am sure that someday a film on Shree Ghatak, India’s first transactor will also be made,” says Ram Kamal.

A certain section of educated people have accepted LGBTQIA community in their social circle, but majority of people still laugh and ridicule them for their sexual choices. “Even today a lot of people, some fellow colleagues laughed at my decision of picking on Shree to tie rakhi. They ridiculed me saying that I could have picked on any heroine from Bengali Film Industry, but why would I opt for a transwoman? They feel that by getting a rakhi tied by a trans will demean my ‘male’ status in this society,” shares Ram Kamal.

This is definitely a bold step taken by director Ram Kamal to embrace a transwoman as his sister on the occasion of raksha bandhan. And we hope that more and more people will come forth and include LGBTQIA community in their festivals too.