04/19/2024, 10.42
Send to a friend

Rupantar: Death threats to director and actors over transgender character

by Sumon Corraya

At the centre of the controversy is a film that tells the story of a young orphaned painter raised in an ashram. He refuses the courtship of a wealthy woman because he feels like a woman in a man's body. Attacks and controversy on social media. The issues of homosexuality and gender are sensitive in Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority nation.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - The production company Ekanna Media was forced to hastily delete one of its series from YouTube  after death threats were issued to the director, the actors, and the technicians who worked on it.

Despite the fact that as of April 16, it is no longer available, the offenses and attacks continue incessantly with thousands of messages relaunched on social media, fueling a climate of tension and fear which causes anxiety over possible attacks or violence.

At the center of the controversy is the popular film "Rupantar" (Transformation, in local language) directed by Rafat Mozumder Rinku and based on the screenplay by Neehar Ahmed, which stars the famous small screen actor Farhan Ahmed Jovan.

Aired on the occasion of Eid, the holiday that celebrates the end of Ramadan (the sacred month of Islamic fasting and prayer), it immediately sparked controversy due to the presence in it of a transgender character played by Jovan himself.

In recent weeks there has been an unprecedented production of entertainment-related activities, especially due to the proximity of the Eid and Bengali New Year (Pahela Baisakh, 1431), marked by the release of numerous films, plays and songs.

Notwithstanding the festive atmosphere, a fierce controversy broke out around Rupantar: which immediately went viral, the film gave rise to hundreds of posts and messages, many of which were critical of the work. At the same time, calls for a boycott emerged against the protagonist Jovan and the main sponsor of the production.

The story centers on a young painter who lost his parents in a train accident when he was still young, leaving him without a family and receiving hospitality and education in an ashram for children.

Despite the fame he has acquired as an artist, he is forced to face a series of complications when the daughter of a wealthy family falls in love with his work and her person, proposing marriage to him.

He reveals that such a union is impossible due to a rare hormonal condition whereby he has the physique of a man, but identifies psychologically and mentally with a woman. This is the heart of the film “Rupantar”.

Many spectators in Bangladesh - a Muslim majority nation where the issues of homosexuality, LGBT protests and the issue of transgender are sensitive, if not taboo - have expressed the fear that the show promotes "transgender culture", leaving the director and actors confused .

Director Rinku explained: “My intention was simply to tell the story of an individual dealing with hormonal complications, a physical ailment. I did not portray any successful [romantic] relationships within the work, but rather tried to portray the growing loneliness that the protagonist faces. It is disheartening to see how much there has been a misinterpretation of the story."

The leading actor also intervened in the controversy, rejecting the criticism and expressing dismay at the personal attacks he received. “The work – Jovan declared – is subject to scrutiny and criticism, but it is disheartening to see so many people targeting me personally. It is unacceptable."

Meanwhile, controversy rages on social media with opposing and conflicting positions and opinions on the meaning of Rupantar and the intentions of the screenwriters. Some claim that it was created to promote transgender ideology, while others claim that the director misrepresented the issue and the issues related to the topic, highlighting a lack of understanding and knowledge of the subject.

Meanwhile, Walton, one of the main private commercial organizations in the country, has distanced itself from the work in which advertising and products linked to the brand and the company appear.

Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
Religious minorities, persecuted and marginalised
First transgender to lead local government in Jhenaidah
30/11/2021 14:29
Islamist groups recruiting among the transgender community
12/03/2021 13:30
China announces “action plan” on human rights
Bangladesh: Two Christians are killed by unknown attackers


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”