Chef Vikas Khanna made his directorial debut with The Last Colour, a powerful story from the alleys of Benaras and Vrindavan, addressing the age-old taboo surrounding the widows who are abandoned to fend for themselves. With this film, he broke more barriers than one, as he casted Delhi-based transwoman, Rudrani Chettri, to play the character of Anarkali in his film.
“I'M NOT GOING TO DRESS UP A MAN IN A SAREE & CAST HIM FOR A TRANSGENDER ROLE. WE HAVE TO FIND A TRANSGENDER PERSON' I repeated these words million times until I found Rudrani. I have to use my voice for change that I want to see," he wrote on Twitter.
He opened up about Rudrani in an Instagram post as well, as he wrote, "I sometimes field questions about my choice of casting Rudrani —an Indian hijra (transgender) in the film. Rudrani, an activist who also runs India’s first transgender modeling agency plays Chhoti's friend and protector, 'Anarkali', in The Last Color."
"To me such a decision seemed contrived and I recalled how people of color or certain castes or cultures or sexes have historically been disallowed from portraying their own in films,” he added.
Rudrani is elated at all the acclaim she is getting for her performance in the film. In this interview, she opens up about how the queer community has forever been stereotyped by the Indian cinema, and how it has caused a lot of damage to the community. She says, “I have seen a lot of people sharing their experience, though they have not transitioned. They are still effeminate men who are in the process of transitioning. They come to me and say that there is a little tease in the film where these actors are teasing transgender person. There are a couple of boys who stand in my colony and do the same thing to me. And this kind behavior not only makes one feel so low but also puts one in shame.”
Rudrani says she does not mind cisgender people playing trans characters, as long as they do justice to it. She does note though that she is yet to see a single performance by a cisgender person who has nailed a trans role. She believes there is ample artistic ability in the trans community, all it longs for is recognition and spotlight from the industry that goes beyond evil or comical portrayal of the transgender community.
(Interviewed and produced by Poorvi Gupta)