South Asia

Organized Panel Session

1 - None of the Above: Gender, Identity, and Cinema

Saturday, July 7
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
Location: Chinar, First Floor

This paper examines the film Shabnam Mausi (2005), the story of a transgender Hijra who goes on to contest elections for the Madhya Pradesh state legislature, as a narrative of gender, sexuality, and electoral politics in modern India. Even as the Indian ballot has allowed for a negative vote, a category marked “none of the above,” that displays the voter’s dissatisfaction with the available candidates, there are those in India whose identities have in many ways amounted to naught. Yet, India is now one of the nations that allow voters and candidates to mark the third gender on its ballots. This simultaneous counting and not amounting to much is a state of ambivalence that exists for much of India’s electorate, especially its transgender populations.  My analysis of the film Shabnam Mausi seeks to analysis a cinematic narrative in the wider context of electoral politics in India, where the film industry and its participants continue to constitute a powerful influence on cultural and political life.


Harleen Singh

Brandeis University, United States

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1 - None of the Above: Gender, Identity, and Cinema



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