Between the Lines — India´s Third Gender


A film by Thomas Wartmann
© 2005 / 94 min (German+English) / 35mm (DV) / 1:1,85 / Dolby Surround

The film documents the tremendous effort photographer Anita Khemka puts forth in order to capture the life of the eunuchs of India — the Hijras — living as outcasts on the edge of society. Officially, the existence of Hijras is denied. And their universe itself is highly inconsistent: Hijras are infertile — yet, according to the Hindu religion they have "a talent to spread fertility". And although they have no apparent sexual organs, the erotic is omnipresent in their everyday lives.

The film was developed in cooperation with the "Länder-Menschen-Abenteuer"-department of German TV-station SWR.

Holy Virgin
Living in a temple and begging on the streets of Bombay Rhamba acts and moves like a woman. With her soft skin, long black hair and beguiling eyes she looks like something out of a magazine, making it even more difficult to believe that Rhamba is actually a young man who was castrated at the age of ten. At night, Rhamba works as a go-go-dancer in a pub. She hopes to earn enough money to marry her boyfriend during the big eunuch festival in Koovagam, South India.

Femme Fatale
Flamboyant Laxmi, a dashing femme fatale persona, is leading a double life in the outskirts of Bombay: one side of her personality is Raju, a sharp minded young Bollywood choreographer who still lives with his parents; and the other side — “Laxmi” — has fought her way up in the hierarchy of Hijras. She heads a group of eunuch prostitutes who love to fool their costumers by calling her “mother”.

Broken Angel
After 17 years of prostitution, today Asha roams the beaches of Bombay “blessing” couples who are willing to pay her a fee, and cursing those who are not. “I don’t want to scare people”, she says -– although people are afraid of her on their own. An outcast even within the Hijra community, Asha is convinced that the days where she could easily seduce any man will return, and that she herself is timeless..

Awards and Festivals:
- TLGFF Torino 2005 — Audience Award
- River to River Film Festival, Florence 2005 — Winner in all categories
- Max Ophüls Film Festival 2006 — Vision-Award
- CGLFF Copenhagen 2006 — Best Documentary
- Locarno Film Festival 2005 — “La Semaine de la Critique” — Premiere,



Written and directed by Thomas Wartmann
Cinematography and editing: Thomas Riedelsheimer
Music: Nils Kacirek
Still photographer: Anita Khemka
Co-author: Dorothea Rieker
Sound: Nararayan Therar
Sound mix: Hans Weiss
Production manager: Wangchuk Fargo
Line producer: Markus Breimaier
Producer: Thomas Wartmann
Commissioning editor: Ulrike Becker, SWR

A coproduction of Filmquadrat & Südwestrundfunk.

Supported by the FilmFernsehFonds Bayern and the Federal Commissioner for Cultural and
Media Affairs (BKM).


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