For years, Bollywood has repeatedly misrepresented the trans community. While in the 90s and early 2000s, trans characters were portrayed as villains, they soon became token characters for comic relief. Not to mention that they are almost always played by cis gendered men and women, a misstep that sets back the entire narrative of the story, no matter how good the film.
Here are some films and TV shows that misrepresented the transgendered community in Bollywood:
While Sharad Kelkar’s portrayal of Laxmii, a trans woman who works towards uplifting the community, came from a good place and was well acted. Akshay Kumar’s version of a man haunted by Laxmii’s ghost was stereotypical, loud, over-the-top and misplaced. The character’s essence centred around the shraap of a hijra and what greater stereotype does the community face?
Mahesh Manjrekar’s role in this Kangana Ranaut starrer Rajjo was that of Begum, a trans woman who runs a brothel. And though Mahesh did a good job at the role, it does not take away from how it was written. A stereotype that Bollywood has used time and again, remember Sadak? The negative portrayal of trans people in Bollywood is a recurring problem that not only reflects the community in a bad light but also perpetuates the fear society tries to build against those who are trans.
3. Murder 2
Prashant Narayanan was praised for his portrayal of a serial killer who murders call girls by pretending to be their customer. His role as psychopath was well-portrayed. But again, the negative connotation that surrounds the third gender comes into play when we consider films like these where a eunuch is painted as murdered simply because of their sexuality?
Milind Soman plays the role of Boris in this Alt Balaji and Zee5 period drama. The show isn’t even out yet and we’re already rolling our eyes at yet another straight man playing the role of a trans person. How difficult is it to cast someone whose gender meets that of the character?
These film used trans people for unnecessary and obviously-not-funny comic relief. Masti had a scene where one of the characters kisses a woman (played by Rakhi Sawant) only to run out of the place screaming because the person was a ‘trans’ woman after he spots her peeing standing up. The cringe!
6. Shakti – Astitva Ke Ehsaas Ki
This Hindi TV show began with something good back in 2016. But soon after it lost track of the narrative, giving into the typical concept of serials by dragging the storyline for 4 years. Not only did the show have a lead who was unaware of being intersex, it also had a very trans derogatory narrative fuelled by hate, that doesn’t sit well.