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Saturday, July 10, 2010


Sudarshan Varadhan
Express News Service
First Published : 10 Jun 2010 11:41:00 PM IST
Last Updated : 10 Jun 2010 08:40:04 AM IST

The US consulate, Chennai, kick started the pride month celebrations on Tuesday with the screening of Prodigal sons, the award-winning documentary. This story begins with Kimberly Reed returning to her hometown of Helena, Montana for a high school reunion. Born as Paul McKerrow, but now a lesbian named Kim, she reveals her identity to her former classmates. Kimberly Reed, now a confident woman, is accompanied by a film crew. She thinks she is going to make a documentary about all the shocked faces she will have to confront at the reunion. But all her expectations take a backseat as Marc, her elder brother, enters the scene. Their paths had diverged long ago: Marc was permanently incapacitated in a car accident, and Kim had left her small-town roots on a journey of self-discovery. The rest of the story revolves around reconciliation issues between Kim and Marc as the story wrestles with identity issues. In the end, it has little to do with gender and has everything to do with acceptance.

What this film does is that, it dispels all the popular notions we have about American culture. For all those who thought family culture and inter-family ties were completely absent even in the small towns of America, the director has a raised middle finger as the answer. Secondly, if you thought transgenders are the cynosure of all eyes in all parts of the world and that they get unwarranted attention, “NO” is the answer. In one of the most beautiful scenes in this movie, Kim is watching the annual music fest along with the rest of the people in the village, which stands as testimony to this fact.

The film also takes an unflinching look at the psyche of the transgenders. It poetically conveys the unquestionable fact that transgenders are mentally much stronger compared to normal human beings. After all, they are subjected to a lot of harassments, emotionally and physically, and are often at the receiving end of unwanted vituperations that they obviously don’t deserve. This fact is beautifully translated on screen via the emotional scenes involving Marc and Kim. Prodigal sons is a brave exhibition of truth and the spontaneous twists wouldn’t be believable if they were fiction.

Make no mistake about it; it’s not a film on transgendered lifestyle though it involves a protagonist who’s a transgender. This movie deserves all the attention in the world as it poignantly portrays what exactly the transgenders need. Accepted, they need love and affection but putting things in perspective and focusing on the long-term goal, we have to work towards treating them normally. They don’t require the “special people” tag anymore. We just need to induct them into our society and embrace them like our brethren. So let’s join the bandwagon and support the cause. The movie’s being screened again in the US consulate general auditorium on Friday.

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