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Awarding them an identity

Staff Reporter
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Director of Ardhanaari hopes viewers will get his film’s message

All for a cause:Director of ‘Ardhanaari’ Santosh Sowparnika (second from right) along with actors Mahalakshmi and Kaviraj at a meet-the-press organised at the Thiruvananthapuram Press Club on Sunday.
All for a cause:Director of ‘Ardhanaari’ Santosh Sowparnika (second from right) along with actors Mahalakshmi and Kaviraj at a meet-the-press organised at the Thiruvananthapuram Press Club on Sunday.

There is an urgent need to address the problems of the third gender, a majority of whom lie about their identity for fear of isolation and subjugation, Santosh Sowparnika, director of the newly released Ardhanaari, has said.

He was speaking at a meet- the-press’ at the Press Club here on Sunday to discuss the film.

Ardhanaari portrays the transgender community, a subject that has largely been skirted round, particularly in Kerala.

Evoke empathy

Mr. Santosh said the film’s intent was to evoke empathy among the audience and prompt them to wonder why the welfare of transgender people, despite there being such large numbers of them, was neglected.

“For a long time, they even lacked identification documents such as voter id or ration card. It was as though only men and women were human,” he said. The third gender column was introduced in forms only recently, he said.

Mr. Santosh said he spoke to many from the community, but the film had to be made within certain limits, since many of the portrayals initially envisaged would have been objected to by the Censor Board.

“Though we are not expecting a huge financial success, we hope that the film’s message will reach the audience,” said Kaviraj, who played the villain. “I was asked by a few whether the film can be labelled a family movie. I told them that it has been shot and directed well, and is in no way explicit or disturbing,” he said. Mahalakshmi, a class XI student of Carmel Girls’ Higher Secondary School, played a major role in this film, which is also singer M.G. Sreekumar’s first attempt at film production.

She admitted to being apprehensive about her role. “But I got a lot of help to pull it off,” she said.

The film has been released in 39 theatres across the State.

The cast includes Manoj K. Jayan, Thilakan, and Maniyan Pillai Raju.

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