The most discussed topic in the film industries of all languages around the globe in the recent times is the existential crisis of transgenders. In a first, Ranjith Sankar has portrayed the existential crisis confronted by a transgender and his/her resistance in popular Malayalam film industry through his film ‘Njan Marykutty’. It should be called a brave attempt at first glance. But since this movie follows the same pattern of Ranjith’s other movies, there is quite a distance to be passed beyond that bravery to attain excellence.
Ranjith Sankar’s movies starting from ‘Passenger’ have a specific pattern. The hero/heroine proves that his/her right is the right to fight against the system, society, family or the state almost all by himself/herself. ‘Njan Marykutty’ also is a repeat of this pattern. What make the battle special is that the protagonist is a transgender person named Marykutty.
The movie’s first half seems to be very active and more or less different and the second half is compelled to follow the clichéd concepts. The story has only 2 hours’ duration. But the overextended narration gives a feeling of unnecessary stretching in some parts.
The public discussions on transgenders or the persons with a different sexuality in our country would not be more than a decade old. In cinemas, they were stereotyped as criminals, buffoons in the gang of anti-hero, hyper-sexuals, pickpockets, street urchins and mere womanish men. The characters that accept transgenders started appearing in new age movies as the change of generation reflected in film industry as well.
Here Marykutty, the character played by Jayasurya who becomes a woman after performing a gender reassignment surgery, is the protagonist. Marykutty is an MCA holder and she returns to her place after resigning the job in a corporate company in Chennai. Her aim is to appear for PSC examination and to become a police inspector. Her family, society, government and its systems create barriers to block her from achieving her target. Jayasurya and Ranjith narrate the story of this crisis.
The major barrier is created by the character SI Kunjipalu played by Joju George. Though Joju plays the anti-hero outstandingly, the never-ending crises and its solutions are clichéd and sometimes appear to be dull.
Prithika Yashini of Tamil Nadu police force is the first transgender police officer in India. Her life could have been an inspiration for Ranjith in the making of this film.
Earlier, Jayasurya had played a ridiculous character of a man with womanish appearance in the film ‘101 Weddings’. But he presented a different role in his career through Marykutty. Jayasurya has sincerely attempted for natural expressions and body language, which otherwise could have been a mimicry of ‘Chanthupottu’. Acting as a transgender in a woman’s appearance is not a simple task at all. But Jayasurya has completely succeeded in that challenge.
The character wearing designer style costume even while sleeping was a bit difficult to digest. Jewel Mary, Innocent, Aju Varghese, Shivaji Guruvayoor and Suraj Venjaramoodu are the other major characters in the film. All of them have played their role perfectly.
If the society has dishonoured transsexuality, the movies and cheap comedy shows which are the by-products of the society have dishonoured it a thousand more times. It is for the first time a film maker from the Malayalam mainstream film industry has approached this subject seriously and treated the transgender community with respect. Amidst all the drawbacks, this treatment is a big plus point of this movie. If at least one person is inspired to think differently from the prejudices about transgenders prevailing in the society, that would be the biggest achievement for this film.