Indian cinema, for many decades, has shown transgender people in a bad light. They are insulted using derogatory terms and made fun of in how they are depicted on screen. Many commercial mainstream movies have been criticized for their representation of trans people. Times have changed now, and in the representation of transgender people and LGBTQ+, Indian films have come a long way. We have many films that responsibly explored many sensitive issues. Here are the top 10 Indian movies that represented the lives of transgenders on screen and got it right:
1. Tamanna (1997)
, this movie revolves around the life of Tikku, a transgender who adopts an abandoned girl child and raises her despite all circumstances. This is one of the most compelling takes on the lives of transgenders. This beautiful story moves your heart, and this explains why it is still relevant to date. It stars
, among others.
2. Super Deluxe (2019)
One of the best movies of 2019 is Thiagarajan Kumararaja’s Super Deluxe. With four stories running parallel, it involves the story of a transwoman Shilpa who wants her son Rasukutty and wife Jyothi to accept her sexual identity.
, in the role of Shilpa, overshadowed everyone else and played the role of Shilpa with perfection.
Samantha Ruth Prabhu
played the lead roles.
3. Paava Kadhaigal (2020)
Set in 1980s rural Tamil, Sudha Kongara's Thangam from the Tamil anthology film Paava Kadhaigal tells how a Muslim transwoman Sathaar struggles to adjust to society and faces many challenges to protect the person she loves. played the role of a transgender woman and delivered a phenomenal performance.
4. Daayra (1996)
, this movie's story revolves around the romantic relationship between a transvestite dancer and a rape survivor who starts dressing up like a man. This kind of relationship's portrayal has not been explored in Indian cinema. It reflects the social lives of transgenders in India and represents the issues it addresses very sensitively.
played the lead roles.
5. Njan Marykutty (2018)
, this film revolves around the life of Mathukutty, a transsexual man who, despite all odds, overcomes physical and mental trauma to achieve his dream of becoming a sub-inspector. This movie explored the struggles with accepting one's identity, orientation, and the discrimination one has to face for daring to live their lives on their terms. Actor Jayasurya delivered a fantastic performance in the role of Mathukutty.
6. Naanu Avanalla Avalu (2015)
Based on the autobiography ‘I am Vidya,’ this film won two National Awards for its terrific portrayal of Madesha, a transgender who faced all odds and learned to accept her identity. Late actor
Living Smile Vidya
and brought out the same free-spirited attitude of her in the film.
In Between (1997): Directed by Kalpana Lazmi, this film revolves around the lives of a leading actress and her son Immi, who she discovers is a eunuch. She becomes an alcoholic. Finding it difficult to cope with this, she neglects parental care. Immi grows up to be a thoughtful human under his grandmother's care. Immi later saves his mother from destruction and addiction.
, Kiron Kher, and Tabu play pivotal roles in the film.
8. Arekti Premer Golpo (2010)
Directed by , the film's plot revolves around Abhiroop Sen, a transgender filmmaker who visits Kolkata to film a documentary but faces discrimination because of his sexuality. This film stars
and in lead roles.
9. Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui (2021)
Manu, a bodybuilder, and Maanvi, a Zumba teacher's love affair, comes to a halt when Manu learns that Maanvi is a transwoman. Things get bitter when Manu's family members get involved. This movie stars
in lead roles. Both the director
and Vaani Kapoor faced criticism as a cis-gendered woman played a trans-woman on screen. Nevertheless, the sensitive take on this bold subject was appreciated by the critics and the audiences alike.
10. Kanchana (2011)
, this film represents the lives of transgenders in India to some extent. The plot revolves around Raghava, who gets possessed by three ghosts, including a transgender one and starts behaving like a woman. Raghava's mother consults an exorcist who makes the ghosts reveal their heartbreaking story involving injustice and murder. The film stars Lawrence, Sarathkumar, Lakshmi Rai, and
in lead roles. This film was remade in many languages, including Kalpana in Kannada and Laxmii in Hindi.