Making film on sexually marginalized people is almost a revolutionary attempt by a filmmaker in
Noman Robin’s debut feature Common Gender: The Film portrays the
struggle and deprivation of Hijras, the transgender community in Bangladesh.
It is a movie version of a television drama of the same title. Queer films are
regularly produced in some other countries which depict the psycho-social struggle
of homosexual, transgender or transvestites. Directors like Derek Jarman or
Gregg Araki have addressed the queer issues in their films. Some of the films
made by Pedro Almodovar, Rainer Warner Fassbinder, Chen Kaige, Ang Lee or Wong
Kar-Wai also dealt with the issue. In Bangladesh, the study of identity politics
focuses on the rights of women in a patriarchal society. But other sexual identities
are generally ignored in the art forms. Common Gender is one if the
first artistic expressions that deals with the issues of Hijras, a
marginalized community with transgender sexual identity.
Though Hijras have several forms in sexual identities, in Common Gender, they are described as children born as males but as they grow up, internal hormonal change compels them to act like females; they wear female dresses, behave like women; at a stage, they are rejected by their family and the society they used to live in. After leaving the family, they are raised within a Hijra community, under the supervision of a Masi. In the new derived community their names are changed – Susmoy turns into Susmita or Babu into Bubli. These two are two prominent characters in the film Common Gender but they have some other friends named as Tuli, Shakiba, Shakira,
and Tushi. They have a common friend Tota Mia with regular male identity
residing nearby their slum. In a wedding, a Hindu young man Sanjoy proposed
Susmita to be his friend. Through mobile phone conversations they become
intimate. Sanjoy often says if Susmita were a woman. Sanjoy’s expectation increases
femininity within Susmita. She falls in love with Sanjoy. Sanjoy introduces
Susmita with his parents but they scolded their son for having a Hijra friend. After being ill-treated by
Sanjoy’s parents, Susmita committed suicide. The very day of Susmita’s death, her
mother visited the slum. Bubli started missing her mother after seeing
Susmita’s mother. She visited her home in the midnight. Her brother scolded and
beat her for entering home. This incident also provoked Bubli to commit suicide.
In the last imaginary scene of the film, Susmita and Bubli met in the heaven.