Many would tell you that for stars, vanity and perception are key to surviving in the movie industry. But Vaani Kapoor is an artiste first, choosing projects over perception and stories over style. Which is why she didn’t bat an eyelid before giving her nod to Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui that sees her play a trans woman — a role that some of her peers may shy away from, mistakenly fearing that it may alienate their male fans.
“It’s not that if I do this movie, I won’t get opportunities to do [glamorous] roles. Also, I am secure to not be affected by trolls. They should not stop you from what you want to do, if you have the conviction. The [male fan base] has loved the movie; they are evolved enough to understand it,” begins Kapoor.
For an industry that has thrived on candy-floss romances for decades, Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui comes as a breath of fresh air. It traces how Ayushmann Khurrana’s boisterous body builder Manu is left unsettled by his ladylove Maanvi’s past. Kapoor harboured no doubts about essaying the part, placing her faith in director Abhishek Kapoor.
“I thought there might not be enough progressive people to support [the film]. But to my surprise, a lot of people have taken it in the right way. I knew I was in the right hands with Gattu [director]. It could have been tricky. The film could go incredibly wrong if not handled well. It had to have sensitivity and the right sensibility.”
She is glad that the movie achieved what it set out to do — trigger a conversation and bat for the acceptance of people who have transitioned. “They have designed Maanvi in such a way to normalise the subject. There is nothing strange about her; she is like you and me. She is attractive like many trans women are.
I have not walked a mile in their shoes, but I have tried to be earnest, and did a lot of research. Even if the film changes the mindset of 10 people in the theatre, our job is done. There are so many ifs and buts, and so much ignorance on the subject. The second half of the film, through animation and graph, gives you an idea of how [the gender reassignment surgery] happens. This movie is an attempt to push the bar.”