Ayushmann Khurrana’s latest film, Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui, sparked a conversation about portraying the transgender community in Bollywood. While some have praised director Abhishek Kapoor’s film for the sensitive and nuanced way it presents the queer community, others lament its commercial brilliance and the fact that the transgender character is played by a cisgender woman, actor Vaani Kapoor. .
Ayushmann, who has made a career of making films about taboo subjects and marginalized communities, opened the debate in an interview with Anupama Chopra of Film Companion.
He said he first learned about the trans community when he was 13. He recalled an incident in which a girl who identified herself as a man was referred to a gynecologist by her father. But the doctor avoided the girl and suggested that she seek psychological help instead. The girl eventually went to Mumbai, had gender reassignment surgery and is now living a happy married life.
Ayushmann said he has gradually evolved as a person, when it comes to understanding broader trans and LGBTQ issues. “Empathy has always been there, since childhood. But yeah, it takes a while to… you know, we’ve grown a lot. We are learning every day. We have evolved so much as a society.
He then said that when he was in college he was invited by the gay community to an event. “I just said no, but there was no meanness to them. There was this fear ‘ki mere sath kya karenge’ (I was afraid of what they were going to do to me). I am a straight guy. “With all due respect, I cannot come.”
“But I wasn’t avoiding them,” Ayushmann insisted.
Earlier, Abhishek Kapoor had spoken about not hiring a trans actor in the film. He told Indianexpress.com, “We’ve come a lot of ways and there was an idea to cast a trans person, but you know I find everyone is so fascinated with actors. Why is it that? everything is legitimized by an actor? Why can’t a trans person write the movie? Why can’t a trans person direct the movie? First of all, this fascination is incorrect. Movies are not made by actors, they’re made by filmmakers and writers. Finally, there is a performance by an individual actor but I’m trying to see above because there is a story to tell. You have to reach people in general bringing the story to them and I thought that was the best way to tell that story there.When you talk to someone, you have to talk to them in their language.