commentary Sync Dialogue
10:00:01:24In India every village festival is accompanied my music and folk dancing. But often the dancers are not what they seem. 10:00:10:19All the members of this dance troupe are men. They belong to South India's huge Aravani community. 10:00:18:23 The aravanis are visible in every city and every village. 10:00:23:21Reluctantly accepted by many as part of Indian culture they are often shunned by their families and forced to lead a life on the edge of society. 10:00:35:21In South India they call themselves Pottai or Ladyboy. And many youngsters aspire to join them. Drummers and dancers
10:00:44:00Ryapan I was born as a boy, but by seven or eight I felt like a girl10:00:51:22KarthikAt first I wanted to be a boy, but I am a girl. I can't change. 10:01:06:08ViggiAs a small boy I was very feminine.By five I was a ladyboy.10:01:17:13PalaniI fight with my boyfriend. I say to him, “Look I am giving you my body, what would you do without me?”
10:01:29:19These are the stories of some of India's teenage boys who have decided to change their sex.
10:01:51:19In 1861 the colonial British imposed new legislation against homosexual acts in India. The punishments for being gay ranged from ten years to life imprisonment. In 2009 the Delhi High Court lifted the ban, but for many, becoming an aravani had been an acceptable alternative. Still of colonial Calcutta.Gvs India

10:02:16:15In the ancient temple city of Madurai in Tamil Nadu, South India, two boys are experimenting with cross dressing for the first time. Gv Madurai
10:02:26:22Palani is sixteen years old, and Karthik is seventeen. The boys have borrowed saris from their sisters' wardrobes. Karthik and Palani dressing
10:02:36:23Palani People used to call me names. They called me a ladyboy. I told my mum. My mum said if anybody says anything bad to you tell me. Its not like that now. When I was small I didn't know what to say. Now I speak openly to people about my problem. 10:03:05:24KarthikI felt like a girl when I was seven or eight years old. Now I'm older I feel it more. When I was small I thoughtI was the only one like that. Then I found there are many like me. Now I like to put on make-up like a girl.10:03:36:11Palani Some people lead a bad life,but I don't want that. I want to lead a good life. When I have grown up I will know if life is easy or difficult.I do worry about my future.
10:04:00:20Madurai lies on the River Vaigai, nearly empty of water for most of the year. The population of the city is over 1 million. It is estimated that several thousand may be aravanis. Gvs Madurai

10:04:20:14Munnee Amma was very young when he joined the aravanis.As a small boy he came to Madurai to work as a servant. Munnee Amma
10:04:29:11Munnee AmmaI had the operation when I first came here. I was ten years old. They asked for money, but I said I had none. Now they use anaesthetic. Then it was a little different. The doctor said, “Look at the picture of Kali.” I remember I was standing. He picked up a knife. I remember him putting the knife down afterwards.The doctor was sympathetic. He said “you can stay here until you've recovered.” He looked after me.
10:05:11:08After the ten year old Munnee Amma had been operated on, a procedure which comprised of complete removal of the genitals, he joined one of the many dance troupes in Madurai, and became an apprentice. Munnee Amma with onion seller
10:05:24:10Munnee AmmaI told them that I wanted to learn dancing. I carried the make-up boxon my head. There weren't many buses and we had a long walk.When the dancing had finishedI packed everything away. The dancers left by bike. I walked home.
10:05:50:16Munnee Amma became one of the leading folk dancers and teachers in MaduraiNow days he acts as an agent for aravani dance troupes. He's highly respected and villagers come from far and wide to book dancers for their festivals. Still of Munnee AmmaMunnee Amma with clients

10:06:12:05One group of aravanis live near to the river Vaigai. Ryapan is one of Munnee Amma's protegés. 10:06:21:00At seventeen years old he is the youngest member of the group. He joined them when he was rejected by his family as a child. River
10:06:31:10RyapanWhen I was eight years old I liked to wear saris. I danced and sang.Some ladyboys agreed I could stay with them, wear saris and dance.Father worked on the railway.He retired and now he's dead.Now we're a poor family.My family won't let me visit.They said “go away.” My brother hit me. I try to visit my sister,they all tell me to go away.“Why have you come here? Go away and die.”
10:07:14:12The leader of Ryapan's group is Dharma.She rules the household but life amongst the aravanis can be quarrelsome.
10:07:22:15RyapanThat's mine.10:07:23:17RadhaIt's hers.Give me the hairclip.You can buy a thousand in Bombay, I can't buy them here.10:07:29:16RyapanDharma mother teaches me dancing,So does Munnee Amma. If any programme is booked we go.Otherwise we stay home cooking and eating. We sleep. If any work comes we go.

10:07:52:19Palani and Karthik have been making their first contacts with the aravani community with, regular visits to Dharma's house.
10:08:00:12BanuKarthik, come and sit down near mother.

10:08:06:15DharmaMany boys are like us. We support them and teach them to dance and sing. These days boys who are like us come here at a young age.We adopt grandsons, granddaughters and children, and we live together.
10:08:30:00Dharma What gave you the idea?10:08:30:24PalaniWhat idea mother?10:08:32:12DharmaDid you have the idea from birth,or from copying others?10:08:36:11Palani I wanted to be like this from the age of 7.10:08:43:01DharmaWould you marry if your family arranged it?10:08:46:03Palani It depends on the situation.10:08:48:09Dharma Then you're not a ladyboy.10:08:50:24Palani Yes I am. We've spent time being friendly and showing you respect. Our families hate us for talking to you,so we suffer for that.
10:09:06:07Dharma Sometimes I think about those who have problems like us.Even if we tell them not to become like us, their families pressure them to stop behaving like this. But it is in our minds. Other people can't control it.
10:09:27:19Dharma Tomorrow I will visit your familyand tell them you are bothering us.10:09:38:06Palani I've been beaten enough. If you send me away I'll run off to Bombay. If I visit you my elder brother will make problems.10:09:49:14DharmaNever mind that. What do you want to do?10:09:53:12PalaniI want to go to Bombay.10:09:55:03DharmaNever mind about Bombay. What do you want to be here? Male or female?10:10:02:10PalaniI want to be female.10:10:03:12BanuDid Ryapan say anything to you about joining the ladyboys? You made your own decision?10:10:14:01PalaniYes mother. At home they are calling me names and upsetting me. Its doing my head in.10:10:22:02DharmaRyapan is a real ladyboy. He was a lady boy from childhood.10:10:28:14RyapanKarthik, how about you?10:10:30:14KarthikIf they arrange my marriage when I'm 25, then I will marry. Otherwise I will be a ladyboy.

10:10:48:10Karthik had been studying at school in Madurai, but he found relationships with his classmates increasingly difficult. Gvs Madurai and school.
10:10:56:15KarthikI was in tenth standard and all the boys teased me. They said “you're a ladyboy, you talk like a lady.” That made me feel sad. So I stopped going in tenth standard. I started going to work. My family needed money, otherwise there was no food. We are poor. I said I wanted to go back to school. My family sent me back for eleventh standard.
10:11:31:02While Karthik continues his education, Palani has dropped out of school, and lives partly with his older brother's family and partly with his mother.10:11:49:01Palani's behaviour has brought about a rift in the family and his mother has been forced to live in one of the poorest areas of the city. Auto-rickshaw through Madurai.Gvs near Palani's mother's house.
10:12:00:14Palani's motherHe's like a woman. Talks like a woman, walks like a woman. We don't like it. He wears eye-liner, colours his forehead and talks like a girl. The family say, “Stop him doing this.”10:12:18:03PalaniWhen we came to live here I was studying. I didn't have many friends. I met a lot of ladyboys. Then I had problems at home. At home they scolded me. “Why are you like a ladyboy?”10:12:37:08Palani's motherWhenever he dances, dunga dunga dunga, just look how much eye-liner he has.
10:12:47:00Now Karthik has returned to school he's finding life easier. Gvs school
10:12:52:08KarthikWhen I was in tenth standard I was quiet. Now I mix with ladyboys. If I'm teased I answer back. Now there's not much problem, because I answer back. No big problem. The boys treat me like a lady.The school anniversary came, I put on lady's clothes. I behaved and danced like a lady. Now the boys know what I am. They all know I am a ladyboy.
10:13:36:11Karthik has one relative he can talk to. Auntie weaving in girls school.
10:13:39:19KarthikI have an auntie in Madurai near Pudur. She's a weaving teacher, teaching girls. She's known all about me since I was small. About my problems, I tell her everything. I tell her. I don't tell anybody else.10:14:04:20Karthik's auntiePeople say to my brother, “Your son wears make-up.” They are worried. At a young age we loved him, and he loved us. On his birthday I always gave him a present. Before I used to do a lot. Now I am thinking I don't like him.10:14:33:11KarthikI tell her that God made me that way. I'm OK, I'm just normal, I tell my aunt. As I change more later, then I'll tell her my problems. I can't do anything about it.10:14:49:23Karthik's auntieCan he carry on like this? My brother thinks I don't know. He hides it from me. When I get there I see it. I don't mention it there. If I do his brothers will kick him.There's another boy. His name is Palani.
Interior Palani's mother's house
10:15:23:22PalaniMy first introduction was with Karthik, wasn't it mother? My house is opposite to Karthik's house. Then they used to scold me not to go with Karthik. They said Karthik's brother would beat me. We never took any notice. Karthik and I hung around in a jolly good way.10:15:49:03Palani's motherAt 13 he became like this. These boys spoilt him. When I'm asked if he works, I feel like tearing my hair out.10:16:04:15PalaniAt home everybody knows I'm a ladyboy.10:16:08:07Palani's motherWhat do they know?10:16:09:04PalaniThat I am like this.10:16:10:19Palani's motherTalking like this, wearing a sarong. We don't know why. We don't know about ladyboys.10:16:19:22PalaniThen I had a boyfriend didn't I mother? That's when the problems started. My family scolded and beat me. That's why there are problems in my brother's house.10:16:31:00Palani's motherLots of problems there because of him. He used to sleep there. Yesterday they finally said, “Don't come home.” I don't go there either. What's to be done?10:16:44:07PalaniOne night we went to see a movie.Other ladyboys introduced a boy to me. I stay with him at night, but there are problems. If we go to a late movie, “Hey why are you sleeping?” This is at 2.00 am. Then he buys food and says ,“Eat this!” Then he hits other ladyboys. “Why are you going into the woods? Are you going to suck cock?” I asked, “Why aren't you going into the woods now?” They said, “We're not going there. He's hitting everyone.” He injured one, attacked another with a blade. He injured someone's ear. Then he scarred his face. That's why they don't go into the woods now.My mum said, “Why do you meet that boy every night?” I told my mum, “I sleep with him its none of your business.”10:17:49:10Palani's motherYou tell us this without shame. Chee! Vulgar!10:17:54:08PalaniMy cousin told me, “Palani why are you like that? My father is ashamed.” She told my brother. “You can't change. Go! Go anywhere you like. If you change you can come back.”
10:18:13:06Now he's left school and is ostracised by his family, Palani has little to do but hang around town. Palani in Market
10:18:31:15In the local market is Viggy, who works there with his family. Viggy in market
10:18:37:13ViggyEven at a young age I wanted to be a ladyboy. From the age of 5 I was a ladyboy. As far as I remember I had sex with a man who lived near us. After that I liked it.When I was small I mixed with everybody, but as I grew older I was teased.

10:19:16:16Whenever they can Viggy and his friends love to party. 10:19:28:10Viggy's best friend is Kannan. A fellow market worker. Dancing
10:19:34:21KannanI've known Viggy for 4 years.I was like this before I met Viggy.As a child I played with girls. I never played with boys. Three years ago I found there were others like me. Before I was worried. My family scolded me. Now I'm friends with Viggy, we are both happy.I want to have the operation. I will have it soon. If we don't have the operation people will tease us. After the operation we can wear a sari and be treated with respect at home. After the operation, if my family accept me I'll stay with them. If they say, “You can't stay here,” I'll stay with the ladyboys. I'd like to stay with the ladyboys. I'm happy to stay here, but if my family give me problems I'll go to Bombay.

10:20:42:04Viggy has already made one attempt to leave home and go to Bombay. Viggy in market
10:20:47:04ViggyThere we can live freely. Here people tease us and call us rude names.
10:20:58:23When Viggy left for Bombay his family did all they could to bring him home.
10:21:04:06Viggy's motherhe went to Bombay and stayed three months. We borrowed 12000 rupees and sent it to him.10:21:15:11Viggy's father and mother In Bombay he told them he had no father and mother. 10:21:26:13Viggy's motherWe were searching for him for a week. We were searching for him.10:21:38:13Viggy's fatherWe got two men to bring him back.One charged 3000 rupees. The other charged 1500 rupees.
10:21:49:03ViggyThe first time I went there I indulged in sex. If we go with a man we can earn 50 to 300 rupees. We'll go with at least 3 or 4 men.
10:22:06:13Viggy's motherWe're worried he'll do it again, we'll have to find more money.10:22:11:14ViggyIf I had stayed there I'd have earned good money.10:22:16:09Viggy's motherNow we have to think about our daughter's marriage. It's two years since her first period.
10:22:27:16Viggy's only hope now is to turn to the aravani community. Viggy in market
10:22:31:24ViggyLadyboys help each other. If there's a problem at home, I'll live with the ladyboys.
10:22:41:06Gvs River Vaigai
10:22:55:21Its an early breakfast for Dharma's troupe of dancers. They have been booked to appear at a village festival. Ryapan eating.
10:23:03:04RyapanAnts.10:23:05:09DharmaBone? Bone or ants?10:23:08:07RyapanAnts.
10:23:10:17As the baby of the group Ryapan can be cheeky. Dharma likes to keep him in his place.
10:23:18:00RyapanWhat about something for me?10:23:19:17DharmaYou give me money and I'll get you something.10:23:22:13RyapanWhat money?10:23:24:08DharmaMoney money money.10:23:27:04RyapanI have no money mother.10:23:30:00DharmaOK. Go and buy some pakoda for me.
10:23:35:19In Tamil Nadu the village festival is the highlight of the year and the audience are eagerly waiting for the performance to begin. But there's tension in the dressing room. Village templeIn dressing room
10:23:47:02ChandraWhat are you doing?
10:23:49:11Because of recent bad behaviour, Munnee Amma has advised against Ryapan dancing at the festival, but Dharma and Chandra have reluctantly agreed to bring him. Preparing for festival Dancing
10:24:01:05DharmaMunnee Amma didn't agree, but I persuaded her and we brought him.10:24:06:22ChandraWe brought him here to dance. If he doesn't dance he won't get his 50 rupees. If we didn't bring him nobody would.
10:24:16:23The show must go on and soon Dharma and her troupe are facing the audience.10:24:32:14This form of traditional folk dance, accompanied by drums and shennai, is extremely popular in South India. 10:24:43:21One of the village leaders is keen to dance with the ladies.10:25:02:18The first half of the show has been a triumph for Ryapan but during the interval there's a mishap in the dressing room when water is spilt on the costumes. In dressing roomDancingIn dressing room
10:25:13:15DharmaWe brought him here and he's spilt the water. He doesn't respect his elders. He's taking off his make-up. We told him don't take off your make-up. He won't learn the business. He said it doesn't matter. He already spilt the water once this morning. If we ask him why he did it he just gets angry.10:25:41:24RyapanI spilt some water so Chandra Mother hit me. Its only water. She shouted as if I'd spilt it on her father's food. She dragged the box and it fell down. Why should she hit me? They've treated me badly since we left Munisalai10:26:05:15ManWhat did they say?10:26:07:08RyapanBe quiet!10:26:08:14ManYou talk too much.10:26:09:19RyapanYou don't know ladyboys.When they dance I will leave.10:26:14:08ManWhy?10:26:15:11RyapanI don't like it.10:26:18:15ManYou can't leave. I will lock you in.10:26:23:23RyapanDon't do that.10:26:25:11ManLook at me. Look at uncle.10:26:30:08RyapanNo.10:26:32:04ManWill you obey me or not? You must dance until the festival is over.10:26:39:19RyapanShut up.10:26:40:20ManIt's no good leaving early.

10:26:44:22Its the second half of the show and Ryapan has made it up with Chandra. Ryapan dances again.

10:27:01:08Back at home, Ryapan and Chandra are friends again. River Vaigai

10:27:15:02In the village of Suleiman, Dharma and her friends have gathered together for a service in memory of an aravani who recently died.10:27:24:14Its a special ritual held 40 days after the funeral.10:27:32:01A local muslim cleric officiates at the ceremony, although this is a mixed group of hindus christians and muslims.10:27:41:07Everybody contributes to the cost of the function. Suleiman
10:27:50:21DharmaMother come. Lunch is ready for all those who have given donations.
10:28:03:03Its a very sociable occasion even for husbands.
10:28:07:07LadaWe've been married 10 months.I'd gone to Usilampatti for a dance function. He was doing business there.10:28:16:24Lada's husband.At first I didn't like her, she liked me. I want to stay with her throughout my life.10:28:26:03LadaThere's no secure life for ladyboys. That happens to 1 in 100. Now he's staying with me, I don't know if it's forever. Even with a normal marriage some are failures. How can I believe this life? Now we are together he says he'll stay until death. I'll wait and see. Tomorrow things may change. Who knows what will happen? I'll pray for a good life. We don't know our fate.
10:29:05:04Stella is another marries aravani. But today she came alone.
10:29:10:16StellaI became a ladyboy when I was studying. I was 11 years old when I became a ladyboy.
10:29:19:15Stella is a professional dancer living on the outskirts of Madurai.10:29:24:15She is her husband's second wife and he shares his time between two families. Ext Stella's house.Stella at home with husband.
10:29:36:08It's traditional for a wife in Tamil Nadu to offer her sari to her husband to mop his brow.
10:29:45:03Stella's husbandWe've neen married properly for 8 months. Is it 8 months? 8 months.10:29:53:11StellaThere were problems, but my husband supported me. Now only a problem with my husband's brother.His mother and brother wouldn't speak to me. He chats with the neighbours. Because I can't have babies, there's no problem.
10:30:09:12StellaIf you are a ladyboy you cannot change. Not for money or by being punished. Take me for example. I danced at school. At home they would say, “Don't go dancing.” But I would dance when nobody was looking.One day there was a festival. First the dancing, but there were no ladies. They called for ladies to dance, but there were only boys. Someone said there's one who looks like a girl and can dance like a girl.“Where's that boy's house?”The group leader drove to my house. He asked my mother, “Can I take your boy and look after him like my son?” My mum sent me with the group.
10:31:05:08Stella now dances with Madurai's top theatre troupe. “Mister Miranda.” 10:31:11:10The troupe is constantly on the road, giving concerts throughout South India.10:31:17:06Stella is the only aravani in the troupe.10:31:24:09The journey to tonight's show, in the highly overcrowded mini bus, will take nearly five hours. Ext Mister Miranda offices.Mini bus journey
Arrival at venue
10:31:58:15Mister Miranda perform re-enactments of musical numbers from Indian movies. All the actors will appear as great stars of the day.10:32:11:14Stella's speciality is Baratha Natyam, the South Indian classical dancing. Actors make-up
Stella dances
10:33:07:07Since falling out so badly with his family, Palani has been spending time with Stella. Palani and Stella at home.
10:33:15:19PalaniI was staying at Stella's house and sometimes going home. When I'm at Stella's house I am very beautiful. I can wear make-up, go out, meet a boy.
10:33:31:17But for Stella looking after Palani was a problem.
10:33:35:09StellaPalani's brother is involved in politics. Any problem could affect other ladyboys. Because of that, I sent him back home. After 10 days he sent me a letter from Madras.

10:33:55:14Palani had been sent to Madras by his brother to work in an ice cream factory. 10:33:52:13Gvs Madras.
10:34:00:21PalaniIn Madras I had some problems. Always phoning my boyfriend. The boss called my brother and asked him to speak to me.“What's Palani been up to?” The boss said I was on the phone all the time.“I told him, he doesn't listen. Spending all the money.”My brother came to Madras. He saw the phone bill.“Why are you doing this?”My sister-in-law said, “Stay there. You can come home for your sister's wedding.”I said I won't go there. If I went there I'd commit suicide.My brother said, “You'll commit suicide?” And he hit me.
10:34:56:20Palani is back in Madurai and Stella arranges for him to stay with Barnor, one of the leaders of the Mister Miranda theatre troupe.10:35:06:05Its a chance to meet friends without pressure from his family. Palani to Barnor's house

10:35:16:06Barnor invites Palani to join them for the next performance. Mini bus
10:35:29:11Barnor's act consists of dancing with fire and snakes. Barnor dancing
10:35:51:20BarnorWhen we were at the show he came to help Stella. I liked him. He told us his troubles, and he was crying. I thought I could improve him, so I brought him home. I don't let anybody else come. We took him in. He gets his own food. Since he's been here his family have been happy. He's a good boy, he doesn't tell lies, he doesn't steal. He's like a child. He can stay here as long as he wants. He's a lot of help to me.
10:36:48:14With the pressure from his family lifted for now, Palani can relax.
Gvs over city.
10:37:20:11In Madurai a meeting has been called as part of an AIDS awareness programme.Its an opportunity for the aravanis to air their grievances. AIDS Meeting
10:37:31:12NargamalWhen we are young, five to ten years old, we have a father and mother. At ten years old it's, “Get out!” When they do leave home and visit their brother, they'll be hit. If they visit their brother, “Ladyboy go away!” Go to mother's house, “Go away ladyboy!” Go to uncle's house, “Go away ladyboy.” We can't go anywhere without being rejected. We have elections. A lot of ladyboys vote. When we vote, doesn't our vote count? The government doesn't care. MPs don't care. Right at the top they don't care. Think about it, suppose your family had a child like that.
10:38:18:01Dr Vijaya Srinivasan has come to talk to the aravanis.
10:38:22:23Dr SrinivasanWhy are we talking about AIDS?People say you're no good, go away don't stay here. Why talk about AIDS?10:38:39:14NagarmalMen do it with women. They go to other houses, then they come to mine. Then my house is infected. Aravani's fault, aravani's fault. They always blame aravanis. 10:38:57:19Dr SrinivasanWhat you say is correct. Others give you the virus. They give it to you. When, where, who? You don't know. You can't tell who has the virus. You have to prevent this coming to you.10:39:21:05NargamalPrevent it coming to us?10:39:24:24Dr SrinivasanUse a condom. Many condoms are available. Many people use Neroj. You can get ribbed ones. Some with spots. Some in rainbow colours.
Many aravanis feel
10:39:46:02There are two and a half million HIV/AIDS victims in India. In the aravani community there is still some confusion. Coming out of meeting.
10:39:54:11PalaniAIDS only affects women, not ladyboys.10:39:58:23StellaLadyboys never catch AIDS.10:40:00:07PalaniIt's not coming? Its not coming nanny?10:40:03:21ManNot sure.10:40:04:23PalaniWe're not sure.10:40:06:08ManAIDS does come. The government is saying, “Don't have sex.”10:40:12:18StellaAIDS comes because men go with women.10:40:14:23Palani I know about this, AIDS doesn't come to men. Ladyboys don't get AIDS because they do it, up the backside.
10:40:30:14Kannan is still working in the market. But there is bad news about his friend Viggy. Market
10:40:36:17KannanHe met me at 8.00 am. We spoke until 10.00 am. He said that at lunch time he was going to his uncle in Tirrupur for three months. His boyfriend was to marry. I told him not to cry. He took his vegetables home. By 12.30 he was dead. He hanged himself. He took his sister's sari, hung it up, and was dead.
10:41;21:03Working nearby was Viggy's younger brother. Tea shop
10:41:24:14Viggy's brotherAt the tea shop my mum came to call me. “Come home, your father wants you.” So I went. I saw my dead brother.
10:41:44:00Viggy's young sister was at school.
10:41:46:16Viggy's sisterI first heard it from the other school children. When I got home they told me, “Your brother is dead.”I am very sad.
10:42:02:15KannanHe wrote to his parents. “Don't be sad that I am dead. I don't like this life. I don't know why I am dead.”10:42:13:21Viggy's sisterIn his letter he said that I must be a good girl and go to school. He said my brother should go to work every day, and that my sister should get married that month as arranged.
0:42:43:12KannanThere was another letter to his friend's mummy. “When I am reborn in the next life, I will be a girl and will marry your son.”Before he died we planned to go to Bombay. Now I won't go anywhere. I am very sad this happened. He was a good friend. I have no other friends. There was only one friend.
Gvs Madurai
10:43:11:10Ryapan eventually travelled to Bombay, but when he returned to visit Munnee Amma he was feeling ill.
10:43:18:22Munnee AmmaHe stopped dancing. Just drinking and taking ganja. Then he started coughing. I asked why he did it. He said, “I'm not mother. I'm going back to Bombay.” He was never coming back. He was very thin. You could see his bones. Like a skeleton. When somebody is dead, like that. He was admitted to hospital. We weren't allowed to see him. “Not allowed. Go away!” because he had AIDS. Within three days he died.
10:44:12:12There's also bad news of Stella. Stella dancing in slow motion.
10:44:16:05Munnee AmmaShe fell in love with a policeman's son. There was a problem. She set fire to herself. We buried her. We couldn't see her face. Her whole body went white.
10:44:45:09Bombay, now known as Mumbai, is nearly 1500 kms from Madurai. The train journey takes 34 hours. Train

10:45:03:02The city has a population of 14 million. Its very easy to disappear here. Gate of India, Mumbai
10:45:11:24Hidden away in the back alleys of Matunga is the house of Noori. Alleys
10:45:19:07She is the leader of a group of aravanis from Tamil Nadu. Every evening Noori conducts a family puja.The new member of the group is Palani, who has changed his name to Simran.
10:45:44:02PalaniI've been here six months. I left home as a lady. I told my mum and friends that I was leaving.10:45:56:16SankariNobody forced him10:46:01:08NooriNo compulsion.10:46:03:16SankariLadyboys always stick together.Only if you fit in with the community can you stay here. If anybody wants to go home they are sent away.10:46:22:10NooriThis is like a ladies hostel. They can come, stay, work. They can go wherever they like. For example Simran and Sankari can go where they like. You go here, you go there. I'm like a hostel manager. They go out to work and return to stay here.10:46:49:10SankariStudents.10:46:51:00NooriNot students, but like a working hostel. We're all together here, cooking eating together.10:47:00:08SudaWe don't have a leader. Mother, nanny, auntie, grandmother. We're a family, not a club with a leader.10:47:16:02PalaniMother, auntie, more aunties, grandmother, another auntie.10:47:24:10Sankari100 or 200 years ago ladyboys lived like this. Its the same all over Bombay. Not only Bombay, everywhere.
10:47:41:08Karthik has decided that Mumbai is not for him. Bombay at night
10:47:45:10KarthikIn Bombay there are good aravanis. But some treat you badly. They'll force you into sex work, then take all your money. I don't like that. I don't want that life. I'm good at dancing. That's what I want to do. That's why I'm not going to Bombay.
10:48:17:17Every day Palani and his friends travel to work on the streets of Mumbai. 10:48:27:11Today they're heading for the tourist area at the Gate of India. Palani and friend in taxi.
Gate of India
10:48:38:17Since arriving in Mumbai, Palani has been learning how to earn a living, using his feminine charms.
10:48:47:02PalaniMy two mothers teach me to act like a lady, to have sex with a man. They teach me about make-up, sarees, jackets. They teach me how to speak and walk like a lady. They change me from a man into a lady.10:49:05:07When we do a sex job we wear a variety of clothes. One might wear Marathi style. Another might wear jeans and T shirt Like a modern girl.I'm wearing simple Tamil Nadu clothes.10:49:20:19If we have sex with anyone, we don't say we are a ladyboy We just say we are a lady. They understand we are prostitutes, but they don't realise we are ladyboys.10:49:35:00They come over and do some eye signals. We do the same. Then we fix the rate. Everyone fixes their own rate. Afterwards we go to a room and do whatever they want.Sometimes we go to a lodge or home or beach, or park or railway station. Or we find a lonely spot.10:50:10:09If somebody has money and says he only has 100 rupees, then we cheat them to get more money.10:50:22:02To remove a sari 100 rupees, a blouse 50 rupees.10:50:27:18One day we'll get 1000 rupees, another, 500 rupees. Sometimes there's nothing.10:50:36:20Many men like me. But if they realise I'm a man I have a problem. If they've paid 500 rupees for a lady, they're not happy and neither am I. If he tells others I will lose my customers. Then I can't stay in Bombay.10:50:55:06Customers who think I am a woman will do their stuff. At worst during sex they will tear off our sari and blouse. They say whether to stand or lie down, or throw me on the bed.After smoking a cigarette they will burn my arm.10:51:24:22Four bullies came, we thought they were OK. One said lie down, another sleep like this. Whatever they wanted. One drew a knife. The other cut my hand.10:51:39:19We are ladyboys, so we can't do anything about it. If we were men we could do something, but we are ladyboys. That's why we leave our land, our father and mother. That's the problem for us. We have no other work. That's why we beg money from shops. When I lived with my mother, I didn't know a difficult life. As a small boy I was innocent.10:52:08:06Now I know life is difficult.
10:52:36:03END CREDITSNarrator John WattsProduction AssistantsV. Cinnapandy P. Samayan S. SumathiOnline Editor Luke ThompsonSound MixerNeil Collymore Assistant Director M. RajamaniFilmed and Directed by Peter Spenceley 10:53:03:23
© 2013 Journeyman Pictures
Journeyman Pictures Ltd. 4-6 High Street, Thames Ditton, Surrey, KT7 0RY, United Kingdom

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