Leena Manimekalai’s film mixes elements of fiction and documentary to recount the encounters between two transwomen and potential landlords in Chennai. Is it Too Much to Ask? is aptly named. The film features Living Smile Vidya and Angel Glady, who have to move out of their apartment and find a new one at the soonest. The door nearly always opens to rejection, including the one time they nearly get a place to rent on the condition that they conceal the truth about their gender before the landlady’s husband walks in and shoos them away.
The dramatised encounters are interspersed with a performance in Chennai, in which the two transwomen use humour to highlight the prejudices, mistrust and discrimination that they frequently face. “The film is both scripted and has real-time encounters,” the filmmaker said. “When Smiley and Glady were devising their play Color of Trans, we included a sequence on house hunting and that became a part of the film as well.”
Manimekalai, who has the Sri Lanka-themed Sengadal (2011) and White Van Stories (2015) to her credit, completed Is it Too Much to Ask? in 2016, and it has been doing the round of festivals ever since.
Vidya and Glady are friends of the director, and the film flowed out of their shared woes over house-hunting. “It is almost impossible for single women as well to find a rental apartment in Chennai,” Manimekalai observed. “Of course, it is much more traumatic for transwomen. We decided to challenge the landlordism together. In that sense the film is intersectional.”
The documentary questions the “feudalist, casteist, classiest, misogynist society”, the director added. Vidya and Glady face rejections because of their gender identity as well as their single status and eating habits. In one hilarious encounter, Vidya has a conversation with a potential landlord during which she explains that she is not single by choice, and would love to settle down with the right person if she had a chance.
“Housing is one’s basic right, isn’t it?” Manimekalai said. “While making this film, I shifted two houses and they shifted three houses in a year and we wondered together how our lives were so defined by eternal displacement.”
After the film was completed, Glady migrated to Canada and has applied for asylum as a gender minority, the director said. As for Vidya, “You can pop in to Smiley’s Facebook page to find her still looking for a house. She is always on notice period.”
Manimekalai’s future projects include The Sunshine, which she is making along with the Sri Lankan Tamil writer Shobasakthi. She is also working on a biopic of the writer Kamala Das in collaboration with Merrily Wiesbord, the Canadian author of the biography The Love Queen of Malabar: Memories of Friendship with Kamala Das. The filmmaker has also completed what she describes as a “micro-budget independent fiction feature Maadathy”, which is about the “life and dreams of an adolescent girl from the Puthirai Vannar community” from Tirunelveli.
It’s the new year and it’s already time to plan your next holiday
Here are some great destinations for you to consider.
Vacation planning can get serious and strategic. Some people swear by the save and splurge approach that allows for one mini getaway and one dream holiday in a year. Others use the solo to family tactic and distribute their budget across solo trips, couple getaways and family holidays. Regardless of what strategy you implement to plan your trip, the holiday list is a handy tool for eager travellers. After having extensively studied the 2018 holiday list, here’s what we recommend:
March: 10 days of literature, art and culture in Toronto
For those you have pledged to read more or have more artistic experiences in 2018, Toronto offers the Biblio-Mat, the world’s first randomising vending machine for old books. You can find the Biblio-Mat, paper artefacts, rare books and more at The Monkey’s Paw, an antiquarian bookseller. If you can tear yourself away from this eclectic bookstore, head over to The Public Library in Toronto for the Merril Collection of over 72000 items of science fiction, fantasy magic realism and graphic novels. With your bag full of books, grab a coffee at Room 2046 – a café cum store cum studio that celebrates all things whimsical and creative. Next, experience art while cycling across the 80km Pan Am Path. Built for walking, running, cycling and wheeling, the Pan Am Path is a recreational pathway that offers a green, scenic and river views along with art projects sprinkled throughout the route. You can opt for a guided tour of the path or wander aimlessly for serendipitous discoveries.
Nothing beats camping to ruminate over all those new ideas collected over the past few days. Make way to Killarney Provincial Park for 2-3 days for some quiet time amongst lakes and hills. You can grab a canoe, go hiking or get back to nature, but don’t forget to bring a tent.
If you use the long-weekend of 2nd March to extend your trip, you get to experience the Toronto Light Festival as a dazzling bonus.
June: 10 days of culinary treats, happy feet and a million laughs in Chicago
Famous for creating the deep-dish pizza and improv comedy, Chicago promises to banish that mid-year lull. Get tickets for The Second City’s Legendary Laughs at The UP-Comedy Club - the company that gave us the legendary Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert and Key & Peele. All that laughter can sure work up an appetite, one that can be satiated with Lou Malnati’s classic deep-dish pizza. For dessert, head over to the Ferrara Original Bakery for mouth-watering treats.
Chicago in June is pleasant and warm enough to explore the outdoors and what better way to soak in the sunshine, than by having a picnic at the Maggie Daley Park. Picnic groves, wall climbing, mini golf, roller blading – the park offers a plethora of activities for individuals as well as families.
If you use the long weekend of 15th June, you can extend your trip to go for Country LakeShake – Chicago’s country music festival featuring Blake Shelton and Dierks Bentley.
August: 7 days in London for Europe’s biggest street festival
Since 1964, the Notting Hill Carnival has been celebrating London’s Caribbean communities with dancing, masquerade and music ranging from reggae to salsa. Watch London burst into colours and sparkle at the Notting Hill Carnival. Home to Sherlock Holmes and Charles Dickens Museum, London is best experienced by wandering through its tiny streets. Chance encounters with bookstores such as Foyles and Housemans, soaking in historic sights while enjoying breakfast at Arthur’s Café or Blackbird Bakery, rummaging the stalls at Broadway market or Camden Market – you can do so much in London while doing nothing at all.
The Museum of Brand, Packaging and Advertising can send you reminiscing about those old ads, while the Clowns Gallery Museum can give you an insight in clown-culture. If you’d rather not roam aimlessly, book a street-art tour run by Alternative London or a Jack the Ripper Tour.
October: 10 days of an out-of-body experience in Vegas
About 16 km south of the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and St. Rose Parkway in Henderson, lies a visual spectacle. Seven Magic Mountains, an art installation by Ugo Rondinone, stands far away from the wild vibe that people expect in Las Vegas and instead offers a sense of wonder. Imagine seven pillars of huge, neon boulders, stacked up against one another stretched towards the sky. There’s a lot more where that came from, in Las Vegas. Captivating colour at the permanent James Turrell exhibit in Louis Vuitton, outdoor adventures at the Bootleg Canyon and vintage shopping at Patina Décor offer experiences that are not usually associated with Vegas. For that quintessential Vegas show, go for Shannon McBeath: Absinthe for some circus-style entertainment. If you put the holiday list to use, you can make it for the risefestival – think thousands of lanterns floating in the sky, right above you.
It’s time to get on with the vacation planning for the new year. So, pin up the holiday list, look up deals on hotels and flights and start booking. Save money by taking advantage of the British Airways Holiday Sale. With up to 25% off on flight, the offer is available to book until 31st January 2018 for travel up to 31st December in economy and premium economy and up to 31st August for business class. For great fares to great destinations, see here.
This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of British Airways and not by the Scroll editorial team.