Picture this: You’ve worked hard, made your savings, and set out to finally find your dream house for yourself—one with modular kitchen, with beautiful antique pieces and handicrafts and all that you’ve always wanted in your home sweet home. You’ve got the money and the means to finally turn your dream into reality, yet no one is ready to really accept you as a tenant. Why?
Perhaps, because of the fact that you are a non-vegetarian or just a non-Brahmin. Or perhaps, because of your gender! Sounds brutal and regressive, doesn’t it? While we can only sit back and imagine the state of those going through the ordeal, the short film Is it Too Much to Ask? Written, directed, and produced by Leena Manimekalai actually shows what it’s like to actually be facing such discrimination in life.
The story highlights the struggles of two transwomen (played by Living Smile Vidya and Glady Angel), who set out to rent a house in Chennai only to face rejection from landlords on the basis of the most regressive reasons ever: Not wanting non-Brahmin tenants, being averse to non-vegetarians, not trusting single women enough, and well–wanting to steer clear of transgenders.
“It is almost impossible for single women as well to find a rental apartment in Chennai. Of course, it is much more traumatic for transwomen. We decided to challenge the landlordism together. In that sense the film is intersectional,” said Manimekalai in an interview to Scroll.
“The film is both scripted and has real-time encounters,” the filmmaker added.
The opening scene of the trailer itself is a stark reminder of how because of our collective discriminatory attitude and indifference to the third gender, their dreams remain unrealized—just because they are “not like us”. Glady, what’s your dream house?” Smiley asks during their house-hunting journey. “I stopped dreaming about my house, Smiley,” a disappointed Glady retorts.
And the disappointment keeps getting stronger as they face different landlords with different degrees of misogyny and regression shattering their already-meager hope of ever getting a house of their dreams. Take a look:
The short film takes a dig at landlordism on the whole with the protagonists questioning this mindset with a peppy, humorous rap in the end.
“I’m a queen unlike you, I’m a star unlike you,I’m a gift unlike you,
I’m so special unlike you.Road is mine…Ocean is mine…Sky is mine…All clouds are mine…
I’m born like you, grown like you, Pay my tax like you, flesh and blood like you.
But…Why? Why? Why? My life is unlike yours, dreams are unworth? Skill’s in no light?
Hey, why don’t I deserve education, liberation, job security, dignity, love, sex,
A f***ing roof to live?
Is it too much to ask? Is it too much to ask? Is it too much to ask?”
Hell no! We say. And it’s time you watch the movie and be more sensitive towards fellow human beings. Because, it’s really not too much to ask.