Rudra Chatterjee aka Ruddy in Chitrangada, Rituparno Ghosh’s immortal gay dancer, is the first image that an ardent movie lover’s mind conjures up when the fine portrayal of an effeminate man on screen is mentioned. He showed how intense a kind of role it is, in a way unique to him. The year was 2012. Come to the present, Tini Tom, every Malayali’s favourite comedian-turned-character-actor gets Kollywood ready as a transgender person with an additional challenge of playing it in negative shade. The villainous Rony, in Operation Arapaima by debutant Pras, is a media head honcho and drug lord, who gives equal competition to naval officer Shiva, played by Malayali actor Rahman.
“Don’t we see people, good and bad, around us? This person’s negative attributes are like those in any other individual of that kind. He faces a severe identity crisis and an absence of sense of belonging. There isn’t a passport or an identity card to claim his existence. He is committed towards his brother only,” he offers a sneak-peek into his character.
Tini had little to groom himself for Rony, for he had the experience watching and observing transgender people up close. “There was a comedy reality show I was part of, where the female characters were mainly handled by transgender people. Whatever they did was full. In cinema also, there are so many make-up artists who we mingle with,” he says. Then there are his early days as a mimicry artiste. “We try imitating anything. So it became handier,” he says.
Rony remains shady and undefined at the same time. “His nature fluctuates as he turns aggressive. No one could turn against him, if found, he’d reduce them to nothing with his influence in media and narcotrafficking,” he adds. Having completed the first leg of shooting, Tini looks forward to the next schedule, for the combination scenes with Rahman. Going by the photographs, we can find Tini had to let go of his signature mark.
“Never had I shaven the moustache off ever since my facial hair started growing. For the film, I did that for the first time.” Being a transgender is no barrier for him to have heroines. “There is Abhinaya and Nexa Saxena in favour of Rony. Both his co-workers. It is not a romantic relation since he is not attracted by women” The story involving naval life is shot in real-life circumstances. “It was such a complex narrative that I stood perplexed at times. In fact, it is going to have lots of freshness throughout,” he signs off.