Reports that came out while the latest Rajinikanth-starrer Darbar was under production that it included a song composed by the talented 'Spicy Girls' of Hyderabad, a trio of transgender women who would also be part of the movie, piqued audience interest. However, when the much-awaited film was released on January 9, the song “Kannula Thimiru” was a let-down, not only to the transgender community but to the discerning and sensitive audience in general.
The musically-talented Chandramukhi, Rachana Mudraboina and Priya were portrayed as mere background dancers, playing second fiddle to Rajinikanth's signature stunts.
Sasha, a lawyer and social activist who has seen the movie, says “Though I was surprised to see this in a Rajini movie, this is not the first time in Tamil cinema that we are witnessing something like this. It is very disturbing and pathetic to portray the trans community as comic characters”. At a time when the community is growing rapidly, Sasha thinks that it would have been amazing and appropriate to see transwomen being given an important role in the movie. “It is annoying to see the same thing time and again. I really hope to see a script with our community given as much importance as other characters”, she adds.
A transwoman who did not wish to be identified, says, “People in India and all over the world are trying to be welcoming to the trans community. But when the press and movies like Darbar with senior actors like Rajinikanth portray the trans people as nothing more than background dancers, it is a setback”. She believes it is high time that both the news and entertainment media stopped portraying the trans community in comic or demeaning ways and instead showed them in a positive light. Only then will homophobic people be able to accept them, she says.
Is the media listening to these voices of critical dissent? Or will it continue to underestimate its own power to bring about positive change?...