Someone once said " We are here. We are queer. We are born this way". Who's that someone? Any guesses? ... ... They are amongst us , a part of our community, members of our society , the ever neglected LGBTQ community.
The T in LGBTQ stands for Transgender which is an umbrella term for someone whose gender identity differs from that typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth.
Someone who's looking for a platform or medium to express their inner core, their deep hidden desires and sexuality and to come out as they are. And what greater medium than the cinemas.... But do they have actual representation in the movies?
This is Saimik at Herald Global.
Join me in this special episode of Deep Dive and let us explore opportunities and the missed opportunities of the trans actors mainly in Indian Cinema.
Recently we saw Nawazuddin Siddique and Sushmita Sen portray transgender roles in Haddi and Taali respectively.... Both of them received their share of praises and accolades from the critics and audiences....All good.....no questions on their commitment to their art....
But wouldn't it have made more sense to cast actual trans actors to portray these parts? Wouldn't it have given a fair chance to their community as a whole to pursue a viable career option.?
But unfortunately the makers decided to play safe and cast bankable actors for the role. Particularly in Taali where Sushmita Sen played Gauri Sawant, the famous transgender activist who has been a role model for many. While Sushmita was top notch in her performance maybe a transactor would have brought the actual vulnerability and anguish that this role so needed.
In a typical commercial cinema space we have seen transgenders being potrayed as either villains or as comic relief. The trend somewhat changed with Mahesh Bhatt's Tamanna but alas Paresh Rawal played the role of Tikku. Ironically it was also in Mahesh Bhatt's Sadak that we saw Sadashiv Amarpurkar turn on a villanious act as the transgender evil pimp Maharani
For a longest time, we saw men dressed up in saree play to trans roles on screen, but cinema is changing for the good gradually. Isnt it? Because a trans woman could have easily been cast in Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui to play Vaani Kapoor's role. Similarly, while Vijay Raaz has done a commendable job in Gangubai Kathiawadi, I still feel that a trans woman should have portrayed that role, and rightly so.
If we are to look down south , Vijay Sethupathi's act as the transgender Shilpa in the movie Super Delux definitely pops in my mind. Or for the matter "Naanu Avanalla Avalu". But the problem remains. And that is casting. Sethupathi was absolutely brilliant as Shilpa, but may be an transactor would have been more than brilliant. Definitely a missed opportunity for them and also for us.
Things are however very different in the West. Alexandra Billings, Laverne Cox, Trace Lysette, Dominique Jackson have been celebrated for their portrayal of transcharacters on screen. Laverne Cox in particular has recieved huge critical acclaim for her act as Sophia Burset on the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black. She is also the first transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in an acting category. The makers out there are actually giving then the opportunity that they so rightly deserve. Indian Cinema on the other hand have a long long way to go.
There is a huge talent pool amongst them .
Anjali Ameer, Ivanka Das, Mairembam Ronaldo Singh, Kalki Subramaniam,Gauri Arora and Trinetra Haldar to name just a few. Out of the lot Mairembam and Trinetra left a last impression on the minds of audiences for the portrayal of transwomen in Pataallok and Made in Heaven series.
Trinetra in particular was absolutely phenomenal as Mehr and her performance ranks as one of the best this year. Through her character wev see the humanity and opression a trans person lives with every day.
Kudos to Excel Entertainment and Clean Slate Filmz for the apt casting. If mainstream makers like Zoya Akhtar Farhan Akhtar and Karnesh Sharma are willing to place their bet on them, I guess others can try it as well once in a while.
Signing off I still think of cinema as one the strongest means of social change. Here's hoping that the filmmakers are able to narrate the stories of this community through them.
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"HARDLY" LGBTQ in Indian Cenema & missed opportunities | Deep Dive by Saimik Sen | Herald Global