Film: Prime Video: Rainbow Rishta
Director: Jaydeep Sarkar, Shubhra Chatterji & Hridaye A Nagpal
Cast: Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju, Ayushmaan Aishwarya, Sadam Hanjabam, Soham Sengupta, Daniella Mendonca, Sanam Choudhury, Joel Mendonca, Suresh Ramdas and Aneez Saikia
Sanam and Aneez hunt for a rented accommodation in Guwahati. But no broker is ready to entertain them as soon as they reveal their ‘couple’ status. So, Sanam, who stays with her sister’s family, orders a mattress. It’s baffling for the family why she would buy a mattress before even finding an apartment. ‘Law of attraction,’ she explains. If she prepares to move out, she would eventually find that dream apartment. She says it with a smile but the pain it tries to mask is heart-rending.
Celebration of love is at the core of the docu-series ‘Rainbow Rishta’, directed by Jaydeep Sarkar, Hridaye A Nagpal and Shubhra Chatterji. It takes us closer to the world of the LGBTQ+ community, where love often comes coated with pain.
By and by, we meet the other real characters — Delhi’s Ayushmaan Aishwarya, a human rights lawyer during the day and a drag queen named Lush Monsoon at night; Imphal-based Sadam, who runs a football club for the LGBTQIA+ community; Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju, a doctor and actor who shot to fame after her stint in the web series ‘Made in Heaven’; Daniella Mendonca, an intersex person who wants to have her dream wedding and finally, Soham Sengupta and Suresh Ramdas, who are in a steady relationship but they have issues to resolve.
The issues they face range from finding an apartment like in the case of Sanam and Aneez, to the suffocation of leading a double-life that Ayushmaan feels, to finding a meaningful relationship in the case of Trinetra, to the sordid story of Daniella, who was sold to the ‘hijra’ community by her father and was gang-raped. But the tone of the docu-series is one of hope and positivity.
Trinetra lights up the screen every time she appears. She tells us with a wink that she goes on dates because it gives her a reason to ‘doll up’. Her frank confessions are delightful. Daniella is full of love and spunk. As she goes about making arrangements for her wedding to Joel, we become invested in every step — we want her to find the right gown, the right venue and we absorb each and every word of her as she takes the vows. It’s heart-warming to see the parents and also the extended family being so supportive. The sadness comes from the fact that their wish to be called ‘man and wife’ was dashed by the Supreme Court verdict that refused to accord legal recognition to marriages between same-sex couples.
While love is central to this docu-series, it does not shy away from exploring the ‘coming out’ pain of the characters and the family reaction to it. Trinetra’s father says eloquently, ‘It was a coming out for her, and it was a coming out for us as well.’ Trinetra talks about her resentment towards her parents ‘because they were never there’ when she was young. ‘There is no manual to bring up a trans person,’ her mother counters. But despite that resentment, Trinetra is close to her parents.
Suresh and Soham share a beautiful bond with Suresh’s nephew and niece. The children are not judgmental and only wish the best for ‘Suresh chittappa’ and ‘Soham uncle’.
The fluidity in the narration and honesty in the conversations make us feel for the characters. The docu-series is unscripted and there is no strict compartmentalisation. The characters appear, taking their story forward, and then step aside to make room for others. There is no clutter and each holds on their own to leave a lasting impact. So much like the colours of the rainbow, a wide spectrum bound together to bring a ray of hope and positivity.