ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Celebration of Identity

A recent Kannada film by B S Lingadevaru, Naanu Avanalla, Avalu, succeeds in artistically celebrating the lives of transgenders who survive the politics of homosocial normativity. 

Amidst the prolonged crises besieging the Kannada film industry—such as the issue of dubbing and the failure to produce films which are as commercially successful as in other south Indian languages—one recent film has proven to be both intellectually stimulating and artistically successful. Naanu Avanalla, Avalu (I Am Not He, but She), directed by B S Lingadevaru, is based on I Am Vidya, an autobiographical work by a transgender, Living Smile Vidya, who narrates the trauma of the struggle of the protagonist to change his gender.

Madesha, a village school boy, is uncomfortable with his ambiguous gender identity; the assigned sexual identity—that of the male—conflicts with the desired gender identity—that of the female. Due to the parental pressure produced by a “straight” society, he leaves for Bengaluru, where his sister stays. The urban space of the city gives him an opportunity to explore the desired gender role he aspires to play. In Bengaluru, he meets a person who is not an openly declared transwoman, but in the closet, s/he celebrates the life of the feminine.

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