Who hasn’t heard of Manabi Bandapadhyay, at least those who are interested in knowing about the phenomenal individuals surrounding us in daily life, she wouldn’t go unnoticed? Manabi Bandapadhyay made sure that she didn’t suffer the same fate as she had a massive cause to fight for. The idea of ‘transgender’ individuals in our country is stigmatised, kept hush-hush, looked down with scorn and outright contempt at times. To an average individual, the concept of ‘transgender people’ refer to the hijras who come knocking on car windows for money, a community in the country that receives more hate than any other.
Manabi Bandapadhyay got introduced to the world as Somnath, the name and fate chosen by her caregivers and society at large based on the genitalia she was born with. As are all, Manabi was labelled a gender her inner person rejected to identify with. But unlike several who are never lucky enough to find the courage in them to openly challenge the world because their inner voice rings too loud, Manabi believed herself more than all the other noise. Born to a middle class family in Naihati, she underwent a sex-change surgery in 2003. A process that is as painful for the body as challenging for the spirit. But necessary to see oneself in the body one longs for more than anything else in the world. Prolonged medical attention and hormone treatment continued and Manabi today stands in front of million cameras wanting to capture her story with daunting confidence , an absolute beauty within and without.
Not only that, Manabi Bandapadhyay is the first transgendered woman in India to complete a PhD and become the principal of Krishnanagar Women’s College in 2015. Manabi has made small cameos in few Bengali movies as well including the National Award winning Nagarkirtan where she plays the role of her real life person and engages in a beautiful explanation of the condition of severely individuals trapped in their bodies, born with the wrong ones that the world at large doesn’t allow them to shed for the ones they truly aspire to live within.
Manabi Bandapadhyay is an aspiring lady with an extraordinary story to tell. And a true inspiration for the hundreds of people spending their lives in burning hells of agony intensified by the glaring ignorance and insensitivity of an unkind society that is mostly sceptical of any “otherness” or deviation from what “they” deem as natural and normal.