Indian Actors Who Have Played Transgender Roles on Screen

Transgender people are still marginalized in our society. There are so many places where they are not given equal opportunities as other genders. The lack of representation of the transgender community is the main reason why people aren’t more aware of their struggles and of course their whole life. Although Bollywood is no less, there is still hope there. Bollywood has represented the transgender community in many movies with the latest one being ‘Taali’ where Sushmita Sen is essaying the role of Gauri Sawant, a transgender activist. Here are some more Indian actors who have played transgender roles on screen.

1. Akshay Kuman in Laxmii

Akshay Kumar played the leading role in the film Laxmii as a guy named Asif who is later possessed by the vengeful spirit of Laxmii, a transgendered person. Although Akshay Kumar does not technically play a transgender person and rather plays a person possessed by a transgender, his mannerisms and looks and acting give us a glimpse of the trans community.

2. Sharad Kelkar in Laxmii

Sharad Kelkar actually played the part of the transgender person, Laxmii, who possesses Asif. Although he has a short stint in the movie, Kelkar leaves a deep impact and portrays the community as it is and also the challenges faced by them.

3. Ashutosh Rana in Sangharsh

As Lajja Shankar Pandey, Ashutosh Rana gave us quite the nightmares back in the day. The psychopath transgender as portrayed by Rana was one of the scariest villains of that time and he even won the Filmfare for his role. Truly one of the best roles of his.

4. Paresh Rawal in Tamanna

Paresh Rawal never fails to amaze us with his versatility and acting skills. A very underrated gem of his, Tamanna is no less. He plays the role of Tikku, a transgender and only child of a yesteryear Bollywood actress who struggles to make ends meet. When Tikku grows up, they find an abandoned girl and raise her as their own. What follows is a life of struggle of being born a transgender in this world.

5. Mahesh Manjrekar in Rajjo

Mahesh Manjrekar plays the role of Begum, a eunuch who is a brother chief. Manjrekar plays the negative character here but aces the role and deserves appreciation. The hand gestures, mannerisms, ways – everything spoke volumes about the trans community.

6. Vijay Raaz in Gangubai Kathiawadi

Vijay Raaz, who plays the role of Raziabai in Gangubai Kathiawadi, should be appreciated as much as Alia. Although a brief role, Vijay Raaz managed to do justice to it and set the scene for Alia. Although a negative character, Raziabai’s role was very important to the film.

7. Sadashiv Amrapurkar in Sadak

Sadashiv Amrapurkar as the sari-clad menacing Maharani is one of the most memorable characters of the movie Sadak. His versatility as an actor was tested in that role and we can say he passed with flying colours. The way he portrays the emotions of a transgender character shows how good an actor he is.

8. Nirmal Pandey in Daayra

In this 1966 film, Nirmal Pandey played the role of a transvestite and so beautifully did he portray the trans community that he won an award at the France Film Festival and not just any award, he won the “Best Actress” award. Such powerful was his role in this movie.

9. Sushmita Sen in Taali

This upcoming web series has already created a lot of buzz. Sushmita Sen would be seen playing the role of Gauri Sawant, a transgender activist from Mumbai. Sen’s recent teaser had fans going gaga over her accurate portrayal of a transgender person.

These are some of the Indian actors who have played transgender roles on screen. But the real question is- Is this enough? And the answer is NO! Bollywood has unsuccessfully tried to represent the transgender community as mostly the portrayal of such is inaccurate or not well researched. The fact that actual trans people are not given these on-screen roles takes the representation narrative further away. 

But at least Sushmita Sen’s web series ‘Taali’ gives us hope as it actually portrays a transgender person in their own habitat and talks about their struggles. Hopefully, we would see some transgender person on screen soon!

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