Poignant portrait of other gender

Poignant portrait of other gender

Poignant portrait of other gender

Naanu Avanalla, Avalu
Kannada (U), Cast: Sanchari Vijay, Praful Vishwakarma, Sumitra
Director: B S Lingadevaru

After a long hiatus, award-winning director B S Lingadevaru returns with another appreciable work — Naanu Avanalla, Avalu. It’s also a significant mark in Kannada filmdom that the movie spotlights on one of the marginalised people of society — the transgenders.

Basically a biopic, the film, inspired by Living Smile Vidya’s autobiographical work I Am Vidya, showcases the trials and tribulations of the third gender, considered a blight on society and constant object of ridicule and rebuke.

Sensitively sketching the lives of transgenders through his principal protagonist, Madesha, director Lingadevaru throws light on how families and society at large scorn at them, treating them with abject disgust.

While one feels Lingadevaru could have been more aesthetic in his approach — he incorporates regular songs and shows the harsh way slighted men deal with them (a train sequence where a man, taking offence to being accosted, physically assaults Vidya) — Naanu Avanalla Avalu covets appreciation for the honest portrayal.

Born into a middle class family in a distant village, Madesha’s first inkling of sexual orientation is felt when he feels more at home with girls of his school than boys, becoming the butt of their jokes. While a cross-dressing Madesha surprises sister Radha and brings in a sense of anxiety in his mother, it is his father who pours his vitriol on a son in whom he had visions of an engineer and a man of house.

As a dispassionate objective observer, Lingadevaru takes viewers through Madesha’s metamorphosis into Vidya, through sex change, his initiation into the commune, and his plight thereafter, within and outside it.

Lingadevaru also shows that all is not honky-dory within accepted community as well. Sending the viewers on an introspective mode, Lingadevaru leaves the film open-ended to draw one’s own conclusion whether there is acceptance, as credits roll about the real life Vidya’s own journey.

What is heartwarming is Naanu Avanalla, Avalu comes at a time when society is slowly, but hesitatingly, awakening to the specific section of society, providing them necessary space and legitimacy through legislations to lead normal lives and rise above the pitiable existence they are otherwise doomed into — begging and prostitution.

Sanchari Vijay has been rightfully rewarded for his understated portrayal of a transgender getting into the skin of the tough persona, being neither over the top nor becoming a cinematic caricature. Lingadevaru, ably assisted by his ensemble team of technicians, cinematographer Ashok V Raman, music director Anoop Jaliyan, turns Naanu Avanalla, Avalu, into a landmark Kannada cinema. Bravo!

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