‘A Place Of Our Own’— An Essential Telling Of The Trans Experience

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4 min readMar 5, 2024

Laila (Manisha Soni) lives in Bhopal on her own, working with marginalized and underprivileged people facing constant hardships in their lives. Laila herself faces these issues, one night returning home to be harassed by a neighbor at her door demanding she perform sexual services for him. After a harrowing night, she decides to move out but the landlord has extorted her out of living expenses and decides not to refund her deposit money, saying that “her kind isn’t welcome here.”

Laila is a trans woman struggling to exist in Madhya Pradesh, India. Her job is welcoming and caring, and her best friend Roshni (Muskan) is always there to support her, but in searching for a new and safe living situation they both run into similar prejudice from other property owners and tenants. Judgmental comments and looks from others who fashion themselves as the epitome of normalcy in society pour out towards Laila and Roshni as they try only to find a safe place to come home to each night. Roshni opens her space up to Laila as a temporary solution, and they receive some support from Shahrukh (Aakash Jamra), a taxi driver who routinely transports Laila and Roshni as no other drivers will accept trans women in their vehicles.

While Laila looks high and low for acceptable housing, Rashni spends more time with her, most times at their favorite cafe to sip tea and plan their next move. Laila returns a lost purse in the restroom, and the woman whom it belongs to meets her to retrieve it. As she accepts the purse, she begins to turn and leave fully satisfied, but Laila insists she check its contents to see that everything that was once in it is still there. This is but one minor practice hardwired into trans people who routinely face discrimination, to never take anything for granted. Preeti (Mahima Singh Thakur), the woman whose purse is returned, would have assumed all was well simply because another woman returned her lost item. But in Laila’s insistence, she shows both Preeti and us, as an audience, the application of one of many essential acts of survival.

Still courtesy of Dark Star Pictures.

Preeti responds favorably to this which strikes a friendship between them and Rashni. They spend some time at that same cafe together, Preeti later introducing her partner to them. They form a small alliance of friendship, a like-minded community being one of the few protections they have while underneath the constant thumb of civilian gender and sexuality policing. A Place of Our Own is directed by the Ektara Collective, a group of diverse individuals and filmmakers to create that which is informed by and reflects common reality shaped from their experiences. In speaking of a representative community acting as a salve, the Ektara Collective includes main actors Manisha Soni and Muskan as well.

The journey Laila and Rashni set out on is drawn from actual events the actors who portray them lived through. It manifests catharsis for its transfemme audience and the actors themselves and in telling their story immortalizes their experience on film. The conditions Laila and Rashni face are not dissimilar to what transwomen and other trans people face all over the world, their setting merely serves as a backdrop where yet more transmisogyny and hate crimes go unchecked and unpunished.

A Place of Our Own comes across as a slice of life for these transwomen, sharing the constant persecution on the basis of not only gender but class and the caste system in India. It’s shot relatively plain in the film’s presentation but doesn’t once feel like it needs to show off aesthetically to get the message across. For its rudimentary approach, A Place of Our Own needs no frills to bear the authenticity of those who want to express themselves as how they identify in a traditionally bigoted society.

Still courtesy of Dark Star Pictures.

As Laila’s journey comes to a close, the Ektara Collective delivers not only a sympathetic portrait of surviving discrimination but also shows us how we can fight it and improve conditions for those who are seen as less than human. At one point in the film, Laila and Rashni give a presentation on the challenges they face daily as transwomen, fielding questions from those who want to learn more about them but unsure of how to show their support the right way. This sequence holds the key to showing how everyone should practice real support for themselves and us, no matter what country or society they happen to reside in.

It starts small but if those who have cisgender privilege actually applied minimal levels of support, it could have a monumental effect on improving the conditions of all trans lives. It’s only a matter of welcoming those who are different from you into your own community, rather than forcing us to exist outside of what we perceive as normal ones. A Place of Our Own is an essential telling of the trans experience that should be shared with all walks of life. It’s an excellent film.

A Place Of Our Own is currently playing in select theaters and is available on Digital platforms courtesy of Dark Star Pictures.

Thank you for reading!
This article was originally published February 24th, 2024 on Geek Vibes Nation.

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