Pride Month is well and truly upon us, and now is a good time to reflect upon the depiction of LGBTQIA+ culture in Tamil cinema. For years, homophobia and transphobia have been prevalent themes in Kollywood, with gay/ trans characters either subjected to mockery or portrayal in a negative light. However, that’s been changing. Mostly the LGBTQ+ community is been underrepresented in movies, but nowadays many accept the fact and portray them in a good way. To celebrate the pride month here are a few Kollywood films that represent LGBTQIA+ community.
Vijay Sethupathi is playing the role of a transgender person who yearns to spend time with her son and reintegrate with the family. Amongst its multiple narratives and themes, Super Deluxe also scored with Sethupathi’s unnerving portrayal of Shilpa.
Hailed for its sensitive portrayal and bringing a lot of ground reality and awareness to the transgender community in a completely commercial horror film setting, Sarath Kumar conceptualized this role that was seen by the LGBTQI+ community in Tamil Nadu as being a ground-breaking attempt to help their cause.
Prakash Raj was featured in a role with grey shades as the transgender Maharani who runs a brothel, all fearsome looks, and grimaces with murderous intent. Though Prakash Raj was at his belligerent best, his role was received with criticism from the transgender community. Still, it is to be noted that he took on this role two decades ago.
This film used the transgender person Emily as the titular character’s travel companion as she traverses with her throughout the story and is with her during the best of her times and worst of her times. The film normalizes Emily’s gender, treating her like any other important supporting character, and more importantly giving her prominent screen space and dialogues.
Part of the upswing that constitutes the third act of Vijay Sethupathi’s Dharmadurai, Jeeva, is employed by Dharmadurai in his clinic after he sees the transgender person ask for money in the road. There is no pity. Just a realistic portrayal of what a person of privilege can do to those who are under-represented in society.
The protagonist’s husband, Jacob, is shown to be gay and is not judged for his orientation anywhere in the film. The character, in fact, is a victim of the society he inhabits.