Sid Gill, the main character of Eisha Marjara’s new film “Venus,” already has quite a bit on her plate when viewers meet her on screen.
She is struggling with coming out as trans to her conservative immigrant Punjabi parents. She is in a relationship with a man named Daniel and, because of workplace politics and other things, she still presents as male when she goes to work every day.
And all of that was happening before a teen boy who looks suspiciously like her began following her around everywhere. We quickly learn that the teen following her is named Ralph and, as he reveals to Sid, he is the result of a relationship Sid had with a woman as a young adult years earlier.
“It’s an adult coming of age story, almost like a second puberty,” the director Marjara told Scroll.in. “As Sid says to Ralph, we are both going through puberty.”
Along with the shock of discovering that she’s a parent, Sid is also taken aback by Ralph’s eagerness to learn about his Indian identity. For their part, Sid’s parents quickly embrace their unexpected grandparenthood, with his mother even declaring that his Indian name will be Rajinder.
As Marjara told Scroll, writing the characters of Sid’s parents was both interesting and relatively simple. “They were the easiest parts to write. They are true of me, my own life,” she noted. My connection to my Indian heritage has been my dad and my mom.”
Although lead actor Debargo Sanyal is not trans himself, several trans women play Sid’s friends throughout the film. Sanyal took home the award for best trans performance at the Kiel Transgender Film Festival in Germany earlier this year and reviewers have hailed his performance as a nuanced one. He “imbues Sid with the kind of interior life that cisgender actors often fail to when it comes to playing trans characters,” wrote reviewer Siddhant Adlakha in Slash Film. “Sanyal hides a certain sweetness behind Sid’s hardened exterior, like it’s a defense mechanism to the character’s constant heartbreak.”
‘Venus’ is screening at the Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival on June 29 in London and June 30 in Manchester. For more information, head here.
All images via Compass Productions