In the Netflix series 'Sacred Games' that came out earlier this year, Nawazuddin Siddiqui's Ganesh Gaitonde, a gangster, pursues a relationship with a woman who turns out to be a transgender.
A much more complex and taboo version of a similar love affair will be explored in Canadian director Lenin M Sivam's boundary-pushing 'Roobha'. It stars 'Dheepan' fame Antonythasan Jesuthasan as a married Sri Lankan Tamil who falls in love with a transwoman played by Amrit Sandhu. Thenuka Kantharajah plays Anthony's wife Pavun.
In addition to depicting the controversial relationship between the two, 'Roobha' also deals with the dehumanising challenges of the titular character who is shunned by his community when he tries to assert his gender identity. 'Roobha' is based on a short story of the same name by Anthonythasan, who goes by the pseudonym of Sobhasakthi.
The film's executive producer Raji Nair tells us that their aim was to throw a light on the issues faced by transgenders in society today. "The South Asian community has been ignoring their problems for a very long time. Through our film, we intend to make them empathetic towards someone seeking a gender re-assignment. We wanted to show them that the transgenders' rights matter as much as anyone else's and they need all the support they can get. We also wanted to empower the members of the LGBTQ community."
A lot of research went into the making of the film, adds Raji. "In addition to having conversations with members of the LGBTQ community, we also went through loads of legal and historical documents. Some of the information we came across was deeply distressing."
'Roobha' had its premiere at the Montreal Film Festival and is expected to screen at several other prestigious international film festivals too.