Review Hindi

Tipu review: Powerful little film on the unfortunate state of transgender children in India

Release Date: 01 Aug 2021 / 6min

Cinestaan Rating

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  • Direction:
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Roushni Sarkar

Presented by Shekhar Kapur, Tipu offers a layered and realistic portrayal of how transgender children are often abandoned by their families.

With a linear, simple yet allegorical storyline, Mihir Lath’s short film Tipu unveils the sorry state of transgender children in India, who are often abandoned by their families worried about their 'honour'.

Featuring Nick Nag, Ali Abbas, Gopal K Singh and Ambarish Saxena, the film documents the reality of transgender children — left with no option but to live out a fate decreed by others — and presents it with a touch of fiction that has the power to unsettle the audience.

Born in a Thakur family, Tipu (Nick Nag) is a mischievous and lively transgender child who is being taken to an unknown destination by Munshiji (Saxena) in a bus. During the ride, when Tipu plays a prank with a fellow passenger, she threatens that witches will come and take him away. He spontaneously replies that he is not scared of witches but later asks Munshiji whether the mythical creatures exist.

Fatigued by the journey, Tipu falls asleep and doesn’t realize where he is being taken when the bus stops and Munshiji boards a car with a stranger (Gopal K Singh). When Tipu finally wakes up in the lap of an unknown transgender (Ali Abbas), he begins to scream out his fear of being taken away by a witch.

While the bus journey to an unknown destination signifies Tipu's life journey, which he is in no position to control, the idea of leaving him with a stranger in fear reveals the stark reality that transgender children, abandoned by their families, have to battle throughout their lives.

The six-minute narrative also targets upper-caste families that maintain a façade of pride and honour and customs instead of providing security and comfort to children that don’t fit into societal brackets.

The lively character of Tipu, which engages the audience spontaneously within a few seconds, makes his fate that much harder for the audience to take. Tipu even asks Munshiji during the journey whether his father is angry with him. Lath shows how the sudden move of displacing the child from his family shakes his faith in attachment, love and care, possibly leaving him stricken for the rest of his life.

On the other hand, Tipu is not even told about the community that is expected to give him a sense of belonging. Tipu instantly regarding the transgender as a witch suggests that the child may bear the burden of a fractured identity forever.

Nick Nag is a natural and makes his character shine in the short span of time. Gopal Singh as the middleman perfectly represents that section of people who lurk around in the dark corners of society to reap a profit.

Remy Debashis Dalai’s camerawork is meaningful. The first half of the short is well lit and has a positive feel. The latter half, when Tipu’s destiny is being decided by others, is mostly dark and signifies uncertainty.

The background score by Sanchit Balhara fuses well with the tight plot, not leaving any scope for the audience to get confused about the film's message.

Tipu is a compact, powerful film that conveys volumes in a brief span and produces a strong critique of the way society perceives and treats transgender children.

Tipu is being screened as part of the Bandra Film Festival.

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