Photographer Anita Khemka’s oeuvre has largely been defined by social documentary work, especially work on the themes of sexuality, HIV patients and transgender communities.
“As outsiders on the margins of society, hijras live an existence full of contradictions — hijras are infertile, yet in the eyes of many Indians they have the gift of donating fertility. And although they are castrated, eroticism is omnipresent in their lives. Between the Lines tells the story of three of these special people,” says Anita.
Right from the beginning of her career, Anita was interested in the issues of sexuality and gender, “After working with hijras and sex workers for more than a decade, I have gained their trust. They easily open up with me and I can understand when they start behaving pricey. As a photographer, it’s important to understand your subject and what and how they feel. You cannot step into their territory and think that it is your birthright and being a photographer/camera person everybody has to open up with you. If they trust your motives and intentions, work becomes easier,” says the photographer. Sharing with us one of the many challenges during the shoot, Anita says, “We were travelling with one of the hijras to Koovagam to be part of Aravani festival — a celebration of the transgender community. Suddenly, she informed that she doesn’t want to be part of the film anymore. I knew that she was behaving problematic and without panicking I tried to calm her and made her understand about the project.”
Anita believes that while documenting somebody’s lives, you have to lend yourself as well. “I opened up about my life and spend time with them to get better inputs. It was a huge learning experience and to be honest, their life experiences humbled me,” she reminisces.