NEW DELHI: Filmmaker Abhishek Kapoor says with his latest release "Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui", a love story of a man and a trans woman, he wanted to sensitise the masses about the trans community.
The movie, which was released in theatres countrywide on Friday, features Ayushmann Khurrana in a never-seen-before avatar of a bodybuilder, while Vaani Kapoor stars as a trans woman.
"There have been so many stories and films around the homosexual community, that everybody has accepted them. But the trans has not been explained well enough out there. My attempt has been to take this issue out to the masses," Kapoor told PTI in an interview.
The filmmaker, known for directing titles such as "Rock On", "Kai Po Che", "Fitoor" and "Kedarnath", said he decided to make a mainstream film on the subject as he believed it would reach out to a larger audience.
"The kind of film we have made -- it is being told in a language that the masses understand. In this case, the look, the feel and the music, as well as the mainstream element of the movie, is what I feel will communicate with the audience," he added.
The filmmaker said that when he started the project, he realised that he had to adopt a sensitive and genuine approach to tell the story. As a part of his research, Kapoor said he and his team met many members of the trans community.
"We tried to understand to the best of our ability. What I gathered was that this community is so complex and so misunderstood."The fact that it is part of the LGBTQ community, we tend to wash it in the same colour but they are very different. But since they are in such a minority, they have stuck together to present a joint voice," he added.
It was a complex film to make, the director said, adding that it is difficult to understand the "discomfort" that somebody with gender dysphoria goes through.
"When I delved deeper into it, I realised this is a complexity that people must understand as a society because we take so much for granted.
Like who I am, we can make our mind and body as one and we take that for granted.
"But someone who's got gender dysphoria, where the mind is of one gender but the body is another gender, I believe one cannot even imagine what kind of discomfort that is on a day-to-day existence.
" The filmmaker asserts that he has made the film from the position of an ally of the trans community.
"I'm a cis-gender man and my experience will never be similar to what the trans community faces every day. I have directed this movie from the standpoint of an ally. And this should be the right approach. The way the entire story is structured made the whole matter very explainable to the audience." "Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui" joins the list of movies that touch upon and highlight the complex yet day-to-day issues of society.
Several of Khurrana's films have been made on such subjects, including "Vicky Donor", "Dum Laga Ke Haisha", "Badhaai Ho" and "Shubh Mangal Saavdhan".
While filmmakers, who attempt to take up a social cause with their film often get lauded for highlighting the issue, they also face brickbats for not going deeper. Kapoor stressed that his intentions were "pure" when he set out to make the movie.
"I did a film called 'Kai Po' Che which dealt with Hindu-Muslim riots in Gujarat. I shot the film in Gujarat. Then I did a film called 'Kedarnath' where we had a Muslim porter in the most important Shiva shrine in the country and he falls in love with a Hindu girl. So I think I have dealt with sensitive material before."
"With this film, my intent is pure. It is not about exploitation. If your intent is pure and your heart is in the right place, I don't think you need to fear so much. People who criticise you will criticise you anyway."
The director particularly showered praise on his lead actor Vaani for agreeing to play the role of a trans woman.
"I was very happy with Vaani because any Bollywood heroine would not have done the film. They would be scared of their image and their business and how they will be perceived."
"I had to give Vaani all the credit for stepping up and agreeing to do this film because I think she really liked the script. I think she did trust me as a filmmaker and that's why she came on board."
Kapoor added that it was a conscious decision to release "Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui" on December 10 as the day is observed as Human Rights Day worldwide.