Movies have the potential to be a strong medium for social change or, at the very least, to allow the general public to reflect on a particular issue or topic. Unfortunately, most Indian films, particularly commercial Hindi films, tend to caricature and further debase individuals who are already subjected to daily mortification ordeals. The Hijra characters are typically presented as filthy, obscene maniacs with only sex on their minds, and they are frequently employed as comic relief. This kind of portrayal not only violates human rights but also makes life more difficult for hijras. Few films strive for realism, instead of producing the same clichéd, stereotyped versions of hijra individuals and lifestyles. One recalls a case in which members of the transgender community filed a complaint against the filmmakers of a particular film for portraying them in a deplorable and ugly light.

Famous hijra figures include Shyam Benegal’s gritty aspiring politician Munnibai in Welcome to Sajjanpur,” and actor Ashutosh Rana’s realistic portrayal of Shabnam Mausi in an eponymous film. The following are three other Indian films that have left an indelible mark on my mind:

Tamanna (meaning “Desire”) is a 1997 film directed by Mahesh Bhatt.

Darmiyaan (meaning “proximity” or “closeness”) is a 1997 film directed by Kalpana Lajmi.

Naanu Avanalla Avalu, by B.S. Lingedevaru, is a National Award winning movie. (I am a “she,” not a “he.”)

The compassionate, well-crafted Tamanna is reported to be based on the story of Tiku, a real-life hijra who resided in Mumbai’s Mahim neighborhood till at least 1997. The following is the plot of the film: Tiku, the son of a former Bollywood actress, works as a hairstylist and make-up artist for movie stars in the Hindi film industry. Tiku is not a member of any jamat and lives in modern society as a guy. Tiku wants to live his life as an individual entity, even if he doesn’t get along with the other hijras.

When Tiku comes across a baby girl abandoned in a public garbage bin, he has the opportunity to express his loving talents and feminine mother instinct. Tamanna, the child, provides a solid reason for the hijra to live. Tiku raises the child with tenderness, lavishing all of the love he can muster in his gentle personality on her. One’s heart breaks for Tiku when a grown-up Tamanna reacts harshly when she discovers the truth about his gender identity (she sees him dressed as a hijra). Tamanna is taken aback by the discovery that Tiku is a hijra; she had assumed Tiku was her biological father. For a few days, she rejects and avoids him before discovering that Tiku’s gender identity has little to do with the loving, caring, and sensitive person he is. Tamanna, now enlightened, is grateful to Tiku and reconciles with him after a well-deserved apology.

The trailer for B.S. Lingadevaru’s award-winning Kannada film “Naanu Avanalla Avalu” begins with this powerful line:

“I’m tired of living a double life.”

“I’d die as a woman if I died. “

The story follows Madesh, a young boy who struggles with his desire to become a woman on a daily basis. The trailer’s second scene depicts Madesh’s father’s displeasure with his son’s effeminate behavior. The following discussion illustrates his vehement condemnation of his son’s behavior:

“I had a dream that he was a son, but there’s no evidence of that.” The father goes on to state that he had hoped that his son would give him an heir (i.e., a grandson), but that there had been no signs of this either.

Madesh’s bitter-sweet path towards femininity, which includes joining the jamat, undergoing the Nirvan or emasculation, the subsequent mehndi ceremony, and connecting with his hijra sisters, is subsequently depicted in the film. Madesh now goes by the name Vidya, which means Knowledge.In truth, the film is supposed to be based on the memoirs of a real-life transgender woman, titled “I am Vidya.” Vidya prefers to work in a respectable profession rather than selling her body as a prostitute because she is educated. She applies for one under a different name and identity, only to be told that the position has already been filled, demonstrating employers’ prejudice against transgendered people.

A 25-minute documentary that contrasts the lives of Ghazal Dhaliwal, a transsexual metropolitan elite, and illiterate hijras. Nadia Uvtukuri’s is a moving work as well.

Anosh Irani, Shyam Selva Durai, and acclaimed dramatist Mahesh Dattani (in “Seven Steps Around the Fire”) are among the Indian writers who have addressed the transgendered in their works. A. Revati, a transgender activist, has authored a large body of work, the most well-known is The Truth About Me: A Hijra Life Story,” which is part of the American College in Madurai’s final year syllabus. Many of her plays in Tamil and Kannada have apparently been frequently staged.

I have been a story writer since 1998 and have published many novels/novellas in both English and Japanese. Protagonists of the following fictions are Hijras – including ordinary males who turn into Hijras over the course of the story:

 

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