Transgender playing make-up artist in Shankar's 'I' upsets her community

FP Staff

January 19, 2015 15:04:54 IST

Chennai: Filmmaker Shankar has sought police protection following protest by a group of transgenders outside his residence after they found objectionable scenes about their community in his latest Tamil magnum opus “I”.

The transgender community is upset with the way Shankar has portrayed the character essayed by popular make-up artist, a transgender, Ojas M. Rajani.

Curiously enough, Rajai, a transgender herself, didn't seem to have a problem playing the role which has enraged her community. According to the plot of the film, Rajani's character is drawn to Vikram's character.

Rajani's Facebook page hints that she has worked with several Bollywood celebs including Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. In fact, Amy Jackson's make-up in the film was done by her. She reportedly also worked with Sanjay Leela Bhansali for Aishwary's make-up in Guzaarish.

Rajani has been featured in several magazines and also made it to an 'achiever's list' compiled by the Femina magazine.

Ojas Rajani with Akshay Kumar and Twinkle Khanna. Image courtesy: FB page.

Ojas Rajani with Akshay Kumar and Twinkle Khanna. Image courtesy: FB page.

However, the role she plays in the film is one of a sexual predator, who pursues Vikram's character. When Vikram snubs her, she is overcome with rage and decides to collude with the villains to hurt him. When the character is introduced, she is shown as one who is overcome with unbridled lust on seeing Vikram and tries every trick in the book to woo him. It must be noted here that, that's the script of several villains in Bollywood and stalking is also sort of glorified by heroes themselves. So the character Ojas plays is nothing that Indian films haven't seen before - only this time it has been played by a transgender.

In Bollywood too transgenders have bee abundantly caricatured as creatures pathetically following the men around and getting rudely snubbed and ridiculed. For example this video of Hasee to Phasee. Bobby Darling plays an annoying person with zero self respect and is shoved around by great disdain by the leading man played by Siddharth Malhotra in the video - that's the standard treatment of transgenders in popular Indian cinema.

Ojas, defending her role in the film said, "When I was given a chance to act in this movie, I took it up, that's it. However, I am yet to watch the movie and have only done what I have been asked to do by Shankar. And I don't think Shankar would have done anything that would hurt the sentiments of the transgender community."

The make-up artist seems to be saying that since she has not watched the entire film, she has no clue how her character has shaped up despite the fact she has played it herself.

However, Ojas' community is not ready to give up. “They have been protesting since the last two days. Since everything was out of control, Shankar sir has requested for police protection,” a source close to the filmmaker said, referring to the transgender community.

Popular transgender TV personality Rose Venkatesan told IANS that the way Shankar portrayed Ojas in the film “belittles our community”.

Members of the community are likely to lodge an official complaint with the police on Monday.

Starring Vikram, “I” also features Amy Jackson and Upen Patel.

With inputs from IANS

Updated Date: Jan 19, 2015 15:04 PM