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Caught Between Genders: Heroes who played transgenders!

Tuesday, April 2, 2019 • Tamil Comments

Tamil cinema has witnessed actors playing different, unique roles on screen, with physical transformations, prosthetic usage and unique get-ups and make-up on screen, and while it has been quite common for our heroes to play women, be it Ulaga Nayagan Kamal Haasan in Avvai Shanmugi or Sathyaraj in Maaman Magal, it isn't the same with heroes opting to play transgenders. Yet, few have succeeded in boldly playing transgenders on screen, and here's an account of our K-Town heroes who dared to do the trans act.

Maharani (Appu) - Prakashraj:

Versatile actor Prakashraj had played many antagonist roles, but this one was totally different from all of them, as  he donned the role of an evil transgender Maharani, in Vasanth directorial Appu. As the evil behind the troubles in many women's lives, Prakashraj was menacing, with his effeminate body language giving a whole new dimension to his performance.

Kanchana - Sarathkumar:

Having seen him always as an action hero and a macho man smashing baddies, Sarathkumar turned a transgender for the first time in Kanchana (he had earlier appeared as a woman in few scenes in Kattabomman). The Raghava Lawrence directorial had Sarathkumar in title role and he delivered a powerful act, displaying mercy, anger and fierceness with his stunning portrayal.

Kanchana - Raghava Lawrence:

Kanchana also had Raghava Lawrence himself transforming into a transgender, after the entry of Kanchana into him. He looked perfect on screen as the man possessed by Kanchana, and also had the song Soora kaatha pola varaada pictured on the character.

Love(Irumugan) - Chiyaan Vikram:  

While Chiyaan Vikram had donned a lady getup in his multi-look movie Kandasamy earlier, he played a transgender named Love, in the Anand Shankar directorial Irumugan. Pitted against the protagonist played by Vikram himself, Chiyaan as Love oozed venom in style, as he convincingly displayed the menace in the character of the criminal scientist, while maintaining the body language of the transgender throughout.

Bhagavan (Aadhi Bhagavan) - Jayam Ravi:

Jayam Ravi had played an effeminate antagonist in Ameer's Aadhi Bhagavan, and with his quirky fashion sense and mannerisms, Ravi made the character Bhagavan lively, and menacing. Though the character isn't portrayed as a transgender, the behavior of the character gives an indication.

Vishwanath (Viswaroopam) - Kamal Haasan:

Ulaga Nayagan Kamal Haasan played an effeminate Kathak dancer in Vishwaroopam, and his character Vishwanath not just exudes feminine antics during the dances, but even the minute expressions and antics during normal conversations were believably feminine as the veteran who has mastered the art of transforming into different characters, aced the trans act as well.

Mayilu(Murattu Kaalai) - Vivek:

Comedian Vivek had played a transgender named Mayilu in the Sundar.C, and while in the past, the comedian himself was a part of several tracks that portrayed transgenders in a distasteful way, but here, his character Mayilu questioned on number 9 being linked to transgenders and considered lowly, irrespective of the positives and specialties in the number.       

Shilpa (Super Deluxe) - Vijay Sethupathi:

Perhaps, the most authentic and realistic portrayal of a transgender on screen. While most of our films have made a mockery out of transgenders in general,  Thiagarajan Kumararaja presented Shilpa as a lovable character, and with his looks, body language and dialogue delivery, Vijay Sethupathi looked every inch a transgender. The character and Vijay Sethupathi's intense portrayal also showcased the plight of the community, the way the society humiliates them, pushing them into a life of regret, fear and inferiority. 

Besides these heroes playing transgenders on screen, making a bold move by portraying a character in total contrast to their macho roles, there's a heroine, who had played a transgender on screen. Debutant Vijay Sri G's Dhadha 87 had debutant actress Sri Pallavi making the bold move of playing a transgender on screen, in a convincing, realistic way, making it the first instance of a heroine playing a transgender.

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