Shikhandi: And Other Tales They don’t Tell You

Film by Pradipta Ray on Devdutt Pattanaik’s book
Co-published by Penguin and Zubaan

Patriarchy asserts men are superior to women, Feminism clarifies women and men are equal, Queerness questions what constitutes male and female.

Queerness isn’t only modern, Western or sexual, says mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik. Take a close look at the vast written and oral traditions in Hinduism, some over two thousand years old and you will find tales of: Shikhandi, who became a man to satisfy her wife Mahadeva, who became a woman to deliver a devotee’s child Chudala, who became a man to enlighten her husband Samavan, who became the wife of his male friend and many more.

Playful and touching-and sometimes disturbing-these stories when compared with tales of the Mesopotamian Gilgamesh, the Greek Ganymede, the biblical Sodom or the Chinese ‘cut sleeve’ Emperor reveal the unique Indian way of making sense of queerness.

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