From Kanchana to Shabnam Mausi: Portrayal of transgender communities on screen
Darmiyaan: In Between, Daayra and Super Deluxe are other films that portray these characters on screen.
Indian cinema has produced some cut classics based on transgender communities
Sushmita Sen is set to be seen as transgender activist Shreegauri Sawant in her forthcoming web series. Though some of our films portray the transgender community as stereotypically funny characters, others have tried to paint a realistic picture of the hardships that these communities go through. Films such as Njan Marykutty, Kanchana, and Super Deluxe have received critical acclaim for their gut-wrenching portrayals of the transgender community and have become cult classics for cinephiles.
Check out other Indian films that portray the stories of these communities on screen.
Amol Palekar directed Daayraa, a 1996 social drama with a remise based on the love story involving a young woman forced to dress up as a man and a transvestite dancer. The critically acclaimed film features Nirmal Pandey and Sonali Kulkarni in the lead roles.
Kanchana, a 2011 horror comedy directed by Raghava Lawrence, is about a man who becomes possessed by a spirit. The further plotline revolves around him trying to get that spirit out of his system, which takes the movie into the past, revealing the life story of that spirit, who is actually a transgender and suffered hardships at the hands of society and administration. Though a horror comedy, it is an excellent satire on the prevailing conditions in society regarding the transgender community. The film became so popular that it was remade in Hindi with the movie title Laxmii, featuring Akshay Kumar, Kiara Advani, and Shaad Kelkar in the lead roles.
The widely critically acclaimed story, Super Deluxe, is a Tamil language black comedy directed by Thiagarajan Kumararaja. Featuring an ensemble cast of Vijay Sethupathi, Fahadh Faasil, Samantha Ruth Prabhu, and Ramya Krishnan, it revolves around four individuals, one involving a transgender woman. Vijay Sethupathi plays the transgender character for which he garnered much attention and critical acclaim. A must-watch that is available on Netflix.
Based on the real-life story of politician Shabnam Bano, the 1998 Yogesh Bhardwaj-directed movie features Ashutosh Rana in the lead role and depicts the story of a transvestite character who fights for the rights of the transgender community.
South Indian cinema seems to be at the top of portraying transgender characters on screen. Another critically acclaimed movie, Njan Marykutty, is a 2018 Malayalam movie directed by Ranjith Sankar, featuring Jayasurya, and revolves around a transgender woman and focuses on the struggles that the community goes through to get their genders changed.
Darmiyaan: In Between
The 1997 Kalpana Lajmi-directed film is one of the most daring films ever made in Bollywood. It is based on a plotline revolving around an actress and her transgender son. Without sugar-coating anything, it paints a realistic picture of the prevailing condition of the transgender community in India, and much of the credit goes to the lead cast of the film, involving Kirron Kher, Arif Zakaria, and Tabu.
Last Updated: 02.04 PM, Oct 07, 2022