In Concurrence with their Counterparts

After opening to a poor response, Shanker’s bilingual film I has now run into controversy with members of the transgender community objecting to being portrayed in a poor light in the film

Published: 19th January 2015 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th January 2015 01:25 AM   |  A+A-


Shanker’s latest flick, I starring Vikram stirred a lot of curiosity before its release. However, it failed to amuse the audience – thanks to the poor storyline, though it was touted to be visually appealing. While the producers are trying to earn back their investment, the movie is caught in a fresh controversy.

IN CON.JPGThe transgender community in Chennai raised objection to the characterisation of transgender Ojas Rajani’s role in the film – as someone who lusts over Vikram. “The way Shankar has portrayed Ojas’s character makes us look like some sex-starved individuals. We are in talks with the members of Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community to decide the next course of action,”said RoseVenkatesan, a popular transgender and television personality in Chennai. Closer home, the thoughts of LGBT community in Hyderabad seem to be in tandem with their Chennai counterparts.

Rachana, a transgender who works as a volunteer for Telangana Hijra and Transgender Samithi, a forum to address issues of transgenders in the city, says the number of atrocities being committed against transgenders are only rising. “In India, women face social stigma and we consider ourselves to be a sub-category of women. At least women have laws that come to their rescue. But our community is sidelined,” she points out. The inhuman treatment of hitting transgenders has reached another level, she says and recalls the incident where a trans woman was murdered on Saturday. “People do this because they know that there is no one to question their acts,” she stresses. In a situation like this, where the community has no support from the law, the police or the society, portraying them as sex symbols, only worsens the situation. “The increasing crime rate is directly related to how we are portrayed,” opines the 34-year-old who echoes the views of her community.

Navadeep.jpgNavadeep, LGBT activist and research fellow at Anveshi Research Centre for Women Studies holds the same opinion. “It is absolute nonsense, the way they have portrayed the community. But it is not limited to just ‘I’.  Mahesh Babu’s ‘Aagadu’ also has a gay character and people around him are scared that he will turn them gay. Why don’t directors do their research before creating a character? They spend time and money for locations, but they don’t care about communities that may be affected. It is because they know that no one will come forward to question them,” he rues.  According to him, films are supposed to inform and educate.

“At least, they shouldn’t be misinforming public,” he comments, adding that the responsibility lies with the community itself. “We struggle for survival and hence forget how we are typecast. We need to make it a point to sensitise the film industry, followed by others,” he notes.       

While Rachana and Navdeep feel that a lot needs to change, transgender Muvvala Chandramukhi, best known as a television anchor, feels that this portrayal will do good to the community. “Shanker is a big director and his film will release across the globe. People outside India will understand the state of transgender community in the country, because that is how society sees them,” she says, adding that it is only a personal opinion and her support still is with what the community democratically feels. 

On the other hand, she points out that everything that was shown in a film is merely the director’s imagination. “When the rest of the story, though not close to reality was accepted, why can’t they accept this?,” she questions.

She recalls the recent incident where actress Shweta Basu was caught in a prostitution racket and asks, “When heroines are not looked down upon, why should we? Yes, there is a lot of negativity surrounding the portrayal of transgenders in ‘I’, but  I prefer the positive side,” she opines and stresses that a film should be watched for what it is – a fictional story. 


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