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Shooting cyber cafes before they die

by Prasad Krishna last modified May 31, 2013 06:32 AM
Working for an NGO, Christy Raj cans the history of city internet parlours through the eyes of a transgender.
Shooting cyber cafes before they die

Christy Raj, a transgender, has single-handedly shot the film in two weeks


Vandana Kamath's article was published in the Bangalore Mirror on May 31, 2013. The Centre for Internet and Society's film on Cyber Cafes is mentioned in this article.


At the turn of the century, when dotcoms were booming, cyber cafes were ubiquitous. But just as video killed the radio star, smartphones have been the slow death of cyber cafes. They may soon be history, but before internet parlours are wiped off the face of the city, Christy Raj, 26, a transgender, has ‘captured’ them for posterity.

Raj (female to male transgender) has single-handedly shot a film on cyber cafes, viewed from the eyes of a transgender. The film is part of a project by Video Volunteers,an NGO that promotes community media. Raj is a correspondent for the NGO.

“I wanted to capture what happens in a cyber café, especially from the point of view of a transgender,” Raj said. “I’ve captured why a transgender would go to a cyber café. It could be for various reasons like applying for a job. The film captures the difficulties a transgender faces etc. It’s a short film, but conveys a lot, especially for a viewer who sees it after cyber cafes have gone extinct in the city!”

Raj admits that he had a tough time while shooting the movie. “We (actor and I) went to several cyber cafes to shoot the film,” Raj said. “Since my actor and I are both transgender, many gave us suspicious looks. Most refused to allow us to even enter the place, forget about shooting the film. We had to show our identity cards at several places and finally we got the opportunity to shoot in a cyber cafe.”

The film, a joint venture of Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) and Video Volunteers, was completed in two weeks and the raw footage was sent to Video Volunteers based in Goa. The film was screened at their fifth anniversary celebrations recently. Raj, who has basic knowledge of camera handling, has been with the NGO since 2010 and has shot various short films on subjects like sexual minorities, the recent eviction of people in Ejipura and human rights.

“Being a correspondent with Video Volunteers has given me an opportunity to work on mainstream issues and work with people from the mainstream. Prior to joining Video Volunteers, I was associated with NGOs like Samara and Sangama. We were given training in camera handling. They give us an opportunity to work on several issues based on the community.”

Raj was born and brought up in Bangalore. His parents abandoned him after they learnt of his transsexual tendencies and he had to drop out of school in the ninth standard. He lives with his partner in Sanjay Nagar.When he left his home, Raj decided he had to make a name in the community.“Today,Icanhandleacamera with confidence and conceptualise and make the films on issues pertaining not only to sexual minorities but also on several other issues,” says Raj.

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