‘We didn’t want Maanvi to be a victim’

It was in 2013 that vani kapoor made his entrance into Bollywood with shudh desi romance, but it wasn’t until last month’s release, Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui, that the actress had her revelation role. Vaani played the role of a trans woman in the opposite film. Ayushmann Khurrana and I remember falling in love with her performance when I saw the movie on the big screen. The nuances she had chosen for her character were so raw and relatable that I couldn’t help but be in awe of her.

So when I spoke with Vaani about her process of immersing herself in the role of a trans woman, she shares that although she was unable to physically meet anyone in the community due to Covid, she spoke to many of them virtually to get the right representation.

She shares,

“I did video calls with them about what they wanted to share about their life, their struggle, their journey, and there’s a lot of that. I got a great insight from those conversations. Then I went through international interviews, documentaries and films that gave me a lot of insight that I could as a cis-het girl. It’s about your headspace and whether you can empathize. And at the end of the day, we are all human beings with similar emotions. I may not have lived through that journey, of course, I haven’t walked a mile in their shoes, and I fully understand that. But I honestly tried to play it from somewhere right in my heart with honesty and seriousness, and with a huge, tremendous responsibility that I felt.”

In one of her interviews, Vaani said that she hopes a cis-het girl never has to play that role again and she still holds onto it. But did she have the same apprehension when she first came up with the role?

Vaani replies,

“From the conversation I had with Abhishek Kapoor, I got enough clarity that he wants to make a film, first to be normalized and accepted by all kinds of audiences. Some progressive minds will get it, but what about the rest of the people you want to educate through that cinema? Until now, our reference points have been men who wear women’s clothes, or vice versa, where they are either the butt of the joke or they make it look different and not normal. That preconceived notion, that mentality that had to be attacked.

Our attempt could just be a conversation starter, it’s like a small step towards him. But we wanted this to reach everyone, which is why I think Gattu even made it into an entertaining movie. That’s why I think he made sure that it wasn’t preachy or sound like a dark movie. It’s a funny comedy movie and that’s how it should be, right? It’s a beautiful love story between a straight cis man and a trans girl.”

As I ask Vaani about her knowledge of the trans community before Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui, the actress gives me an honest answer.

she opens up,

“Of course, you subliminally know the struggles one faces and the complexities that life has to offer. But I haven’t lived that life, so I didn’t know the depth of it. I’ve looked at interviews from the 1990s to the 2000s to now, and I’ve seen an evolution, even in the interviewers. The background has changed. There was so much judgment, a hidden opinion that even the interviewers had when talking to them. When people in the community do these kinds of interviews as a trans girl or as a trans man, they have to put themselves out there so that people have a conversation about their private life and private parts, things that in an ideal world, no one wants to discuss. So, I felt that they are so strong, brave and wise. The kind of life choices one has to make makes them much more evolved and wiser than cis people.”

And that impression is what shaped Maanvi on screen, as Vaani shares that she and Abhishek had a clear idea of ​​what kind of portrayal they wanted to give.

she states,

“Gattu and I talked about how we didn’t want Maanvi to be victimized. She is a very brave girl who has made very brave decisions for herself and is someone who has the potential to stand up for herself when no one else does. She comes with that school of conviction. We didn’t want her to become this maudlin person who just isn’t sure and needs somebody’s support. There is a dialogue between Manu and Maanvi in ​​which he says what if I can’t support you, and she says, but I can take care of myself. So, I feel like she is someone who is empowered. She is only looking for a self of belonging, and rightly so, because society also needs to be more inclusive, since these are basic rights”.

I lost my heart for Vaani when I saw her as Maanvi on screen in Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui since his interpretation had that nuance and connected with me. The role has been a revelation for the actress and I am sure that with her work, in the future, she will simply raise the bar that she has set with Maanvi.


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