It is no secret that the Indian society as a whole has always looked down on the transgender community and has made their mere existence a taboo to speak of. In the light of such orthodoxy, Rana took his leap quite well.
Whenever we see a ‘Hijara,’ we automatically clench our wallets a little tighter and avoid any eye contact to begin with. However, out casting a human being is not only where we have failed as a society; we have also failed at further glorifying our deeds by always associating such characters with either a comics role or that of a demon. We have imbibed it within our children and generations that such people are abnormal and can only be associated with something of that genre.
Ashutosh Rana, in such a setting, however, crossed some lines and initiated a revolution. He actually acted in only two movies as a transgender but did so in a manner enough to create a long-lasting impact. ‘Sangharsh’ was the first of the two, released in 1999, where Rana portrays a transwoman who worships Maa Kaali and abducts little children to sacrificeand cannibalised them at Kali’s altar. It would only be honest to say that Rana’s character was downright scary and horrific enough to set a negative image of a person with such sexual preferences. But again, whatever the role may be, Rana at least took the leap to enact such a character within the shackles of the hypocrite society; also bagging the Filmfare for it. He was, perhaps, one of the only few in the league along with Kamal Hassan (Chachi 420) in India.
After the systematic horror in the form of a movie name ‘Sangharsh’ and served hot, the second movie to have Rana in a trans role was Shabnam Mausi. Released in 2005, Shabnam Mausi filled up for the all the gaps and flaws committed by Sangharsh earlier. This one is a delight on screen; it is about the real life story of India’s first transgender MLA – Shabnam Mausi. The struggles and turmoil, as obvious as it may be, is beautifully done by Rana. The anguish to have faced by the protagonist, the difficult path that led her to ultimate victory and all that a human being faces to be as respected as other human beings – Rana marvelled at the depiction.
Apart from all the aforesaid superficial facets, by these two powerful roles, Rana went to a rather latent level to have us understand, where have we, as a society, gone wrong. The whole jargon of us Indians mistreating, misunderstanding and misjudging another human being on the basis of their sexual orientation is slapped right into our faces in the form of Sangharsh.With striking just the right balance between characters, showing up as a storm in days of rather drought and leaving a legacy behind for everyone to ever perform a transgender in Bollywood : Ashutosh Rana, take a bow wherever you are.