Transgender romance movie a hit in Bangladesh

A film about a love affair between a transgender person and a Hindu boy has become a surprise hit in Bangladesh, with distributors saying on Sunday that it will now be given a general release.

"Common Gender", Bangladesh's first film dealing with transgender people, often known as hijras, opened in just six cinemas two weeks ago but full houses have encouraged cinema owners to extend its run and screen it nationwide.

"We opted to release the movie only in six cinemas in the first week as it lacked big stars and some labelled it as an art-house movie," said Enamul Karim, the film's distributor.

"But it's a resounding success so far. It is pulling in crowds and other cinemas are taking it up."

He added that an Indian producer was in talks to buy the film rights.

"We have had bumper shows and the trend is very good. We are now planning to show the film until the end of August," Syed Razfature Rahman, manager of Balaka theatre in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, said.

In the movie, Sushmita, a hijra, falls in love with a Hindu boy but the boy's parents refuse to accept Sushmita, eventually leading to her suicide.

Across South Asia, hijra communities of transvestites, eunuchs and asexual people are among the most marginalised groups in traditionally conservative societies.

Director Noman Robin said he made the film after he saw a transgender person attacked for using a female toilet at a shopping mall.

"The hijra was beaten in front of hundreds of people," he said.

Last October more than 1,000 hijras rallied in Dhaka for a government-sponsored demonstration to raise awareness of their rights.

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