A Place of Our Own (Ek Jagah Apni, 2023) Movie Review: The phrase “Sting Like a Bee” can never go old. Bees do not require a supportive shoulder to lean upon, even for a facile job. They’re exclusively autonomous and devoted to reaching their goals, with zero seconds of losing hope. Without the presence of bees, honey would not have shown up on the shopping counters for all our edible assortments. However, the aftermath is almost fatal when one disrupts the habitat, even with a slight push.
Moving past to director Leena Manimekalai’s 2017 short film entitled “Is It Too Much to Ask?” which featured two trans women finding a rented house to stay in Chennai, the selection of the idea from the accommodation standpoint was staggering enough to awaken the audience from stupor. Here comes an entry of the same context that circles the plight in a 360 degrees direction, without even a single shot to mislay.
The film gracefully highlights the footprints of the film through three focal elements, namely perceptions, words, and identity. While each of them is associated with the other, these elements are vacuumed individually to build on as stairs to reach the top, which is the throne of the queens in the film.
Perceptions – Most netizens nationwide are not concerned about relinquishing their minds to accept the trans community as part of the harmony system. Starting from family members all the way to strangers, the rebuffs and social stigmas are directly proportional to the dignity that each of them has hoarded in their years of longing. The Ektara Collective team members sneak in every latent perception that can be thrown upon the trans community and place a silent time bomb within the viewers, which explodes indefinitely with no warnings.
There is a particular scene where a landlady refuses even to welcome both women into her home and notifies the middleman to look for family-based tenants. The exquisiteness of this scene lies in how both the women talked about relishing their stay in the room if they were given a choice to stay, yet their feedback, based on the landlady’s statement – ignores her wholly and leaves the place with zero regrets. Laila and Roshni are textbook examples of mature ladies with a vast expanse of knowledge within them to fully articulate themselves in every circumstance of life.
Words – Words form sentences, and each word transports a distinct meaning to the hologram of vocabulary. The vigor of using an abusive word can invoke a truckload of stings through the air. Getting teased by random strangers seems to be an oxygen supply for most, often seeing it as a medium to channel authority over status. However, words are also part of speeches and responses, which women illuminate on countless occasions.
Laila cleverly voices her extension of struggle in an invited talk ceremony, where she explains how people support victims of rape and murder through candlelight vigils but never the trans community, who later jokes wittily that the candles run off in number when it comes to them. Talking about responses, the ladies give numerous sharp retorts whenever a disruptive question turns on the patience engine, and the following reply raises zeal and fills the appetite immensely.
Identity – The act of being able to dismiss unmasked bigotry comes from the core of electrifying one’s own identity. Laila and Roshni are inseparable and candid with each other throughout their perilous voyages. Roomies and best friends to start off, advisors and discussion allies to further match on. Years of being tortured verbally through gender and caste discrimination have brought up a defense mechanism within them to move past the horrible vultures – by being valiant and dispersing the pessimism through achievements.
Laila has a postgraduate degree in social work, while Roshni is a great cook; both have their aptitudes to thrive in life, with their identity. Nevertheless, staying true to themselves has also been a deep swim in a crocodile swamp, stuffing them in a tight briefcase to breathe among the rest.
The nectar of the sacred honey jar lies in one of the many fantabulous dialogues written in the film that could bring Dodo back to earth. Laila answers her male auto driver after regretting his past actions for abusing the trans community – “Even if you drove us around your whole life, it wouldn’t make up for all the abuse. But let it be, I won’t burden you with the debts of all men”. On that note, preserving the queen bees or the entire bee community is a noble and sacred act that places any individual to the point of moral immortality.