Vaani Kapoor has ended 2021 on a high. The actress took the brave step of portraying the role of a transwoman on screen in Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui and her decision has been receiving a lot of positive response from the critics as well as the audiences. Talking to News18.com, Kapoor says she had no apprehensions whatsoever when the part came her way, how she got into the mindset of a transwoman and wants to start a conversation about the community.
You play a transwoman in Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui, a role that many female actors wouldn’t have picked up with the fear of losing their male fans. Did that thought ever cross your mind?
I was aware that it has gone to other actresses and I can’t even honestly even speak about them. But when it came to me, I felt convinced that this needs to be addressed in the correct light. It is a topic which is so tricky and not done before, so it could have gone incredibly right or terribly wrong. But I had my faith in Gattu (director Abhishek Kapoor) as I have seen his previous work and all of them have been aesthetically treated. So I knew that the presentation of this film would be correct. I also had Ayushmann (Khurrana) who I know is a responsible actor and has done films in the past where he has addressed subjects that need to be talked about. So there was a whole lot of confidence that came from the team. I am happy and pleasantly surprised that people are liking the film and are appreciating our efforts.
Did you ever have second thoughts while playing a transwoman?
No, not at all. I am an actor and if I start judging every part then I am doomed. If I don’t stand up for something that I feel needs to be addressed then I shouldn’t be an actor. The idea of doing this film was that I was very happy about the treatment because it keeps a good balance between social message and the entertainment factor. The director has showcased and designed the film in the correct light without making it too preachy; there is bridging the gap between the masses. Even if 10 people feel differently after coming out of the theater it is an achievement. I would love to be part of such conversations. This film is a great attempt to at least start the conversation.
Playing a transwoman needs mental preparation. How did you get into the character?
You are absolutely correct that the role needed more emotional preparation. I haven’t walked a mile in their shoes and I probably would not know the depth of struggles they have witnessed in their lives. I spoke to a lot of people, a lot of trans girls, I face timed conversations with those who have dealt with similar situations. I also tried to watch a lot of documentaries, shows, and movies, visited content from the 1990s and 2000s. I saw how the interviewer is asking them in a tone with a kind of insinuation, with a little judgment and hesitance, and the change today where people have evolved enough and matured to give them due respect and credit. It is a huge leap from how one used to perceive then and now. I am not taking away the struggles that they still have to face from society and their own families. At the end of the day I wanted to play the character with some place honest from my heart. I wanted to wash away the memory of a man dressed in a sari and being the only reference point in the head of our audiences of a trans person.
What was your biggest fear while playing this character?
My fear was what if the trans community doesn’t accept her. But thankfully the feedback that I am getting from the community is really heartwarming and so positive. I met with Simran Sahni who came up with the idea of the film. She had come for the cast and crew screening with her two beautiful daughters who are trans girls and they loved the film. In fact, my biggest compliment came from their father who felt that a cis (gender) girl would not be able to play a trans girl but he got teary-eyed while watching the film. Even designer Saisha Shinde wrote a post and complimented me as she has had a similar journey like what my character Maanvi in the film goes through.
The makers of the film were criticised on social media for not casting a transgender person in the film. What do you have to say about that?
Honestly, this is a baby step we took with the correct intent to bring in more inclusivity for trans people. Also, it’s a relation between what you’re showing a filmmaker and the audience, so if audiences are not willing to even accept this, then we are talking about many forward steps ahead from this. Gattu made this film for all sorts of audiences so that we could at least start a conversation. I also don’t know how many trans girl actors are there and who Gattu would have wanted to play Maanvi. I hope in the future a trans girl can play a cis girl’s part. I hope there are more storylines about trans people with a different narrative and we can make more films with them and they can play cis girls’ part. Why should we restrain them and make them do only trans parts?