Converge 2015: Activists, youth icons talk on social change, depression

New Delhi, Dec 12 (IANS) Social activists and youth icons gathered here at annual Converge event on Saturday to participate in a flagship talk series regarding human rights issues, LGBT community and independent cinemas in India.

Noted personalities such as transgender social activist Akkai Padmashali, OYO CEO Ritesh Agarwal and “Titli” director Kanu Behl spoke at the event.

“I challenge the patriarchy, the norms which are made by the male-dominated society. With dignity, I am a woman. I stand for social justice and social inclusivity,” said Padmashali, who was born as a boy named Jagdish and at the age of 16, raped by her classmates. She worked as a sex worker for eight years before taking up activism to tackle issue against transgender. She was conferred with Karnataka Rajyotsava Award, the state’s second highest civilian award, in November for her work towards sexual minorities

“My parents took me to NIMHANS hospital in Bangalore to so-called psychiatrists and psychologists that I could be cured. In the name of curing, they demanded Rs.10,000 for three months of treatment. My parents were more concerned about the social structure rather than me. I faced a lot of sexual violence, intimidation, hurdles and police violence, it’s unimaginable but today I stand here infront of you talking about our rights,” she added.

Behl, who made his directorial debut with critically acclaimed “Titli” this year, talked about scope and challenges of independent cinema in India.

“My film was in theatres for merely two weeks before Salman’s ‘Prem Ratan Dhan Payo’ was released. We may not have been in the theatres for long, but we received a lot of appreciation from all over the world, not just India. So I guess we are on the right path. Being able to hold the audience captive is a challenge and I think we were successfully able to do that,” he said.

“Titli” has been honoured at several prestigious international film festivals, including the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, Melbourne International Film Festival, Rio de Janeiro International, Zurich Film Festival Filmfest, and Chicago International Film Festival among several others.

Tamil rapper Sofia Ashraf, whose “Kodaikanal Won’t”, a parody video against a consumer goods giant which has clocked more than two million views since it was uploaded on YouTube in August this year, also performed at the event.

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