Elevate Difference

Shabnam Mousi

Yogesh Bhardwaj’s 2005 Bollywood film Shabnam Mousi presents some interesting issues regarding gender. It focuses on a group of eunuchs who raise a eunuch child within their clan. This child grows up to be Shabnam, the star and namesake of the film. Shabnam and other eunuchs struggle with the fact that they are not complete men or women, and that they will never be able to marry or have children. They question why god made them “incomplete,” and why other people in society treat them so unkindly.

There are various altercations in the film between the eunuchs and other members of society. One example of such is when a man falls in love with Shabnam. Upon telling his sister that he wishes to marry the eunuch, his sister promptly approaches Shabnam and tells her to stay away from him. The end result is Shabnam selflessly bidding farewell to this man and chance at a marriage.

Shabnam is a lovable character; she seems to combine the stereotypical attributes of male physical strength with female kindness and compassion in order to stick up for the helpless. She also makes some lofty, inspiring speeches about what is right.

Despite an interesting premise and main character, the movie is hard to sit through. It drags in places, the subtitles lag and the acting is not the best. It may, however, be worth a watch just for the themes represented in it.

Written by: April D. Boland, April 3rd 2007