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Times of India
Watch Jenana not because it's preachy but because it tells a story that needed to be told.
Riya (Priyanka Sarkar) is a struggling film maker, looking for a good story to make a movie. She meets Somu (Sankar Chakraborty), a transgender, who narrates how he became a man who dresses up as a woman, colloquially known as 'Jenana,' to earn his livelihood.
About filmmaking, they say, find a story and make it good. Jenana begins with Riya, an aspiring filmmaker, looking for such a story to make an 'realistic' film. She meets Somu aka Sumona, a transgender, who narrates his story from being a villager to a jenana in Kolkata. The film, directed by debutante director Barshali Chatterjee, revolves around the life of transgender community members. It explores the hardship they have to go through owing to little or no social acceptance. In a nutshell, it gives us a sneak peek into the world of men who join the transgender community for their livelihood and the unhappiness and frustration lurking behind their heavily made up faces.
Jenana has a promising start. But 20 minutes into the narration, it goes into flashback and stays there as audiences bash their heads waiting for it to gain pace. A song comes in from nowhere and goes on for a long 10 minutes testing our patience. But the film picks up pace in the second half. Scintillating performances by Sankar Chakraborty, Saswata Chatterjee, Rupanjana Mitra makes it a good watch. Sampoorna Lahiri as Somu wife Mala, too, does a commendable job. Chatterjee shows a world we never knew existed and we wish it didn't. The subject is laudable and it does spurn few dramatic moments.
It's a bold attempt in telling the tale of a flourishing industry that exists at the traffic signals - the male community who change their social-sexual identity to eke out a living. In a society that is merciful to neither men nor women, the ones walking the thin line between the two suffers the most. Watch Jenana not because it's preachy but because it tells a story that needed to be told.