A group of transgenders on Monday protested against what they claimed was a ‘humiliating’ portrayal of the transgender community in the recent big-budget Pongal release, ‘I’, directed by Shankar in front of the regional Censor Board office inside Shashtri Bhavan in Nungambakkam.
The protestors demanded an unconditional apology from filmmaker Shankar, lead actor Vikram and comedian Santhanam for negative portrayal of the transgender character and removal of certain ‘objectionable’ scenes from the film. After shouting slogans against the film, the group met the regional officer of Censor Board, V. Packirisamy, to convey their objections.
If the demands aren’t met, members of the transgender community vowed to intensify their agitation. Speaking to journalists afterwards, Banu, who is a part of ‘Transwomen and Transmen Rights Group’, said that they would continue the protests until an apology is tendered by the filmmakers.
While the film has released in a number of screens all over the world, the protestors seemed to agree that banning the film may not be an option. However, they said that certain scenes — where actors Vikram and Santhanam dance and sing around the transgender character and where the transgender suggestively eats a sausage — deserve to be removed.
“Indians are not taught about transgender people as a part of education and get most of their information from popular movies. Whenever movies portray us negatively, the reaction is instant. When Ameer’s ‘Paruthiveeran’ came out, I had personally faced harassment by a guy who sang ‘Oororam Puliyamaram’ before throwing a water packet on my face. It’s a pity that Shankar who has so much awareness about the latest technology in film is so insensitive when it comes to representation of transgender people in his movies,” said ‘Living Smile’ Vidya, a transgender and a theatre actor, who participated in the protest.
One of the protesting women said that Tamil movies have been consistently demeaning the members of LGBT community and also placed a said that there must be a representation from the LGBT community in the Censor Board just so that such a portrayal in movies doesn’t escape the scissors in future. “This will make sure that no members of LGBT community are humiliated in cinema,” she said.