How movies take up trans awareness?
After Kerala witnessed the first registered marriage of a trans couple, the release of Njan Marykutty was welcomed by the trans community for its truthful depiction of their lives. Vouching this fact, celebrity makeup artist Renju Renjimar said she was surprised to see the changes in the facial expressions of people after watching the movie. “The faces which used to stare at me started exchanging a friendly smile and I realized the power of cinema.”
Renju says she had gone to see the movie with a prejudiced mind. “I thought that the movie would reinforce the preconceptions about us. On the contrary to my concepts, the movie was just amazing. Jayasurya was actually living as Marykutty. Many parts of the movie made me weep. I wasn’t watching a movie; instead I was reliving my earlier experiences.”
Surya and Ishaan have recently become the center of attraction as they became the first transcouple to register marriage in Kerala. “The main positive of the film was that it presented the subject without any exaggerations and jokes, which was a cliché followed by the movies focussing on transgender people”, says Surya. She said that more transgender individuals should act in the movies. It can make a huge difference in both the making of the movie and the perception of the audience. Gender neutrality can be achieved in the field of cinema only if transgender people act. The movie has changed the perceptions of people about us and we are thankful, she added.
What is shown in the movie is a tip of the iceberg and a huge portion is lying underneath, is what transgender activist and actor Sheethal Shyam has to share. She says the movie reflects their life as in a mirror. Marykutty is born in a middle class family and she finds a space in the society by becoming a police officer. On a rational side, achieving such a career is something which is literally impossible for majority of the transgender individuals. Financial difficulty is one of the major issues that we face. I accept that there are limitations for the things that can be included in a film. However, there are several dimensions of our lives that are unexplored.
2018 has marked a greater transformation in the canon of Malayalam cinema. A field which was stuck between the binaries of gender has widened its spectrum to include the transgender.
There have been early attempts to portray the lives of transgender community like ‘Chanthupottu’ and ‘Ardhanaari’. But, most of them have presented distorted and exaggerated versions. ‘Aalorukkam’, directed by VC Abhilash was a critically acclaimed movie which focussed on the issues faced by the LGBT community.
The State government is taking several steps to bring the transgender community to the mainstream. Provisions are being introduced to ensure their welfare on the educational, professional and social grounds. But, the limitations of the awareness campaign have now crossed with movies like ‘Njan Marykutty’. It was an eye-opener for the increasing need of embracing the transgender community as part of the society. Will the representation of trans people on big screen give a boost for the community to break the impending barriers? Only time will tell.