Assamese film ‘Fireflies’ (Jonaki Porua) has sparkled the stages in India and abroad. The Prakash Deka-directed film on LGBTQ theme has been able to draw the attention of critics and viewers.
Among others, Benjamin Daimary, who plays the protagonist in the film, has won the best actor award at the 11th edition of Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival which is one of the biggest LGBTQIA+ film festivals in South Asia.
“It’s a great thing to happen. I’m so happy,” an elated Benjamin told The News Mill. This was Benjamin’s first appearance in front of a camera.
The film tells the story of Jahnu, played by Benjamin, who lives in a remote village by the banks of the river Brahmaputra in rural Assam. The villagers mock him for the femininity that he proudly wears. Jahnu’s life takes a drastic turn when his romantic relationship with Palash catches the attention of the villagers.
Awards or no awards, the film has influenced Benjamin a lot who also belongs to the LGBTQ community.
“Working in the film has been a great learning experience for me. I’m thankful to the director for making it happen. Prakash da has helped me a lot to build up the character. As I hadn’t faced the camera prior to this film, it was a bit challenging for me. The film has helped me to become more confident about myself and say openly what I’m. Professionally also, it has helped but it has more impact in my personal life. I was very shy but now I have changed. I’m glad that I did it,” he added.
Prior to this, ‘Fireflies’ got multiple nominations at the I AM Film Festival in London, Uganda Film Festival and FIPRESCI-India Grand Prix 2019 among others. Apart from that, the film has been screened at more than 15 festivals across the globe.
For the self-taught filmmaker Deka, making a film on the LGBTQ, is a moving experience.
“Ever since my childhood, I have seen the lives of LGBTQ people. Many wouldn’t come open revealing their identity. Then I happened to meet Milin Dutta, the producer, who is a transman and he wanted something to be done. That’s how it happened. Now, the most satisfactory part is that the film has been able to touch people’s hearts. Many of the LGBTQ community have messaged me that they could feel their voice through the film. This means a lot to me,” Deka, who is based in Mumbai, said.
He further said of the protagonist: “I’m highly impressed by Benjamin’s work though he is working in his first film. Many have said that he could play the role because he himself is a gay. But I don’t believe that. One has to be a good actor and put himself inside the character to bring the best out of it.”