With only 15 minutes, Aditya Ahmad’s Kado delivers a poignant study of gender fluidity through the story of an androgynous girl. Observed through the lens of society with conservative views about gender and sexuality, this irony is keen to challenge the very same society about “how it really feels” to counter the traditional “how it seems.” It’s heartfelt without having to relegate its beautiful story to melodrama; but, most importantly, it’s thought-provoking, probing a continuous discourse.
The idea (as mentioned by Ahmad in an interview with SINdie) roots to the native Buginese views of gender. Traditionally, there are five genders: male, female, calabai (physically male but is identified as female), calacai (the opposite of calabai), and bissu (gender-ambiguous). The question is when the traditional belief collides with widely-known belief of gender, will it still have a place?
The question is manifested in the androgynous protagonist (Isfira Febiana), a high school student who would bring two sets of uniform to school. At school, when she hangs out with her male clique members, she wears a set of uniform for boys with trousers; she even has her hair slickly cut—undercut style. When she hangs out with Nita, her female friend, she must wear a set of uniform for girls with hijab and long skirts. With trousers, she identifies and expresses her preferred gender traits; with hijab and skirts, she finds the way to explore her sexuality and find intimacy with Nita. With trousers, she’s the tough guy and she embraces it; with hijab and skirts, she’s vulnerable and she conceals her tough-guy persona. In only 15 minutes, her whole journey feels simple enough to depict the complexity.
Kado delivers a nuanced narrative with social and cultural subtexts take part closely yet away in the background. Be it a lesser story, it may point finger to a particular party; but, it tends to show how complex the whole situation is. Similar to Garin Nugroho’s Kucumbu Tubuh Indahku, the story is partially based on actual sets of events experienced by the main actor .The story finds shelter solely within Isfiana and contain the whole perspective from her eyes. Seemingly, the only goal is to subtly put audiences to her shoes; and that works.