Film : … ebang bewarish ( … and the unclaimed)
Director : Debalina
Producer : Sappho for Equality
Country : India
Year : 2013

On February 21, 2011, two young girls committed suicide together in Nandigram, one of the interior villages in West Bengal. As the story unfolded we came to know of their love affair, and non-acceptance of the village community as well as their families. To deal with ‘abnormal’ relationship, one of the girls was married off in a haste. Under the societal pressure, the two girls committed suicide. But their death did not end societal non-acceptance. After their death their bodies lay in the police morgue for several days unclaimed by their families. One of the girls left a letter telling their story of love and loathing and asking their parents to cremate them together. The parents rejected their wish and the unclaimed bodies were disposed off by the police, unattended, uncared for.

Debalina’s film ‘… ebang bewarish’ (…and the unclaimed), talks about these two unclaimed dead bodies and many more dead and living ones. The central question being non-acceptance of non-normative persons, the film brings out pain and desolation of such persons who are ‘unclaimed’ by their loved ones and by the society at large. Four protagonists narrate their stories of living as misfits. The film explores the connection of these tales of living persons with the dead ones. ‘If we want to keep the dead alive within us, then their death is also apart of our living, don’t you think so ?’

The film is a tribute to life, non-normative or not, and also to death, when that is the only way to live!
This documentary, while centering on the suicide of Swapna and Sucheta, also tells the stories of four different individuals who, because of their otherness, their gender or sexual preferences, have to through their unique struggles, yet similar to that of Swapna’s and Sucheta’s life. The film explores the stands of the LGBT activists, representatives of law, and social-scientists on the specific case of the two girls from Sonachura as well as the question of social segregation, taboo, family oppositions and the views of the society at large. This film is about the duality of our human existence. It speaks about the tragedy as well as hope; of lives lost, lives unclaimed and also of lives lived and the horizons yet unclaimed. It begins with death and with a hollowed cry and piercing blow and ends with hope and determination.

About the Director:

Debalina, is an independent filmmaker and cameraperson. She studied comparative literature and worked in television before she turned freelance. She has worked on feature length documentary films, short films, travelogues, music videos, telefilms and mixed genre. She is also a still photographer and that is how she started her career. She is passionate about issues on gender and sexuality, environment and occasionally writes for newspapers and magazines.

Her films got selected in the Berlinale Talent Campus, Mumbai International Film Festival ( MIFF ), British Film Institute (BFI), International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala etc.

She directed and worked as a camera-person for a series of television documentaries with episodes on violence in food habit, animal sacrifice, girl child abuse etc., followed by Bini Paisay Bilet – a series of travelogues shot in Europe for which she did sound and camera. Her short film Sar..r..ra (English title ‘Joy Run’) was selected in the ‘Shoot Goals! Shoot Movies!’ short film competition of Berlinale Talent Campus 2005, the 55th Berlin International Film Festival. She made A Stranger in a Bioscope – a short film about her first time experience in Berlin, which was produced by Sabotage Films, Berlin. Her short film on Indian independence and partition The Broken Land which was selected for the ‘Independence in 3 minutes’ project funded by Channel 4, United Kingdom.

Debalina’s urge to work on socio-cultural issues took a course with her direction, camera and sound for Kee KathaTahar Sathe (English Title: “Sh..Sh..S(he)”) – a short film on male homosexual sex workers, Mother Courageous on maternal deaths in Uttar Pradesh commissioned by PSBT, India, Taar Cheye She Anek Aaro (English Title: More Than A Friend), exploring the lives and outlooks of four characters in the context of a growing awareness about same-sex relationships in India. Her video capsule Bahurupee (English title ‘Men in Disguise’) was selected and showcased in the Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpepen (MUHKA), Belgium. She also made two full length children’s tele-films

In addition, she has been doing camerawork for various national and international projects which includes a documentary on sex workers of Kolkata for Current Television, Italy. A documentary, Border to Border, on the Chinese community of Kolkata for a Hakka television channel of Taiwan. A documentary on the river Ganga, a documentary on 80 years old religious Buddhist, who migrated from Tibet 50 years back and founded a little village at the Indo-Nepal border and many other interesting and challenging projects.

Her latest documentary …ebang bewarish (English Title: …and the unclaimed) has started touring national and international festivals. This is a documentary which talks about two unclaimed dead bodies and many more dead and living ones.

Presently she is involved in many other projects and planning to tread in as many avenues of creative film making as possible.