The Unconventional Life Of A Mumbai Based Costume Stylist – Parineeta
By Humaira Ali
Parineeta, a 26 year old costume stylist based out of Mumbai is about to undergo a gender reassignment therapy. This step by Parineeta is an inspiration for all the Trans individuals who are scared of coming out. The freedom to express our individuality has often been hindered by the confines of society. Thankfully there have been waves of unapologetic young Indians carving space for themselves, breaking out of the cages they were once boxed into.
The Varanasi born photographer, Ajatshatru Singh, who is currently working in Mumbai film industry, has captured the journey of Parineeta. This step of undergoing gender reassignment is an example of uplifting the acknowledgement and mindfulness towards every single person of the society. In a candid conversation with Social Chutney, Singh shared his experience of working with Parineeta.
Singh’s friendship with Parineeta had begun on bollywood sets. And it became stronger in a year. When he was looking for a subject to shoot for portraits in his free time, Singh was a bit skeptical to ask Parineeta for photographing her. But after talking to her she was on board with getting her pictures taken. Singh, who has previously worked as a camera assistant on the sets of Netflix’s Sacred Games says, “I am a documentary photographer by heart, when I got to know that Parineeta is about to undergo such a therapy in a country like India where such topics are a taboo, I wanted to visualize her story in my portraits”.
“Ever since I was a kid, it has been ingrained in my head that gender is binary. This experience has been eye opening as concepts like Gender Dysphoria and Gender Neutral were not even heard of as to where I come from. This project was the most organic way which has given me a deeper understanding and allowed me to be more empathetic towards not only Parineeta but also anyone who I may meet in the future with a similar situation.” Says Singh.
“Parineeta’s family is very supportive and understanding. But it took her a while and some efforts to get the family members to understand. Her relationship with her mother is still a work in progress. Parineeta thought she was gay because she wasn’t aware of the term ‘gender dysphoria’ because of lack of information. Her sister was understanding and supportive, which was very helpful for her later on when she told her parents. It was much later that she came to know more about gender dysphoria.” Singh added.
“The Bill passed out last year was flawed because of a multitude of reasons, like how they have defined the term transgender, no reservation in employment, education, no appropriate protection against rape and assault, and so much more. I’m sure; like me everyone knows the main points that are regressive and fundamentally wrong. I think that in light of the bill, it’s important to highlight that regardless of age, sex, religion, caste, gender or sexual orientation, citizens of a country need rights to be safeguarded. These are basic human rights. As said by Parineeta at one point: She doesn’t want to be viewed as a trans woman but just a woman. The second we label someone, we are marginalizing them. We need to view them as just people, citizens, humans.” requests Singh.