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

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Deconstructing the Trans-inclusivity ‘Myth’ in Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui

Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui, despite its claims and attempts at trans-inclusivity, unfortunately perpetuates transphobia.

 

Films that discussed the love stories of homosexual and transgender characters in the past have often carried a transphobic and homophobic gaze, foregrounding the awkwardness, shame, mockery, and disgust of the onlooker and not the experience and emotions of the people involved in the romance. Many Hindi films have used queer characters for comic relief and depicted them as stigmatised individuals. Of late, there has been an increase in the representation (even if not inclusion) of transgender characters thanks to LGBTQIA activism. But is there really a shift in depiction? Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui (2021), a recent Hindi film that claims to be progressive and inclusive adds to this perplexity.

The film attempts romance on an unusual track. Bodybuilder and weightlifter Manu Mujral (Ayushmann Khurrana), a native of Chandigarh, falls in love with a Zumba instructor Maanvi Brar (Vaani Kapoor), who offers classes in his gym. Maanvi reciprocates his love and they soon consummate their relationship. When Manu learns that Maanvi, who he loves and has had sex with, is not a cisgender person but a trans woman, he is surprised and ashamed; he breaks down because of this “offence” on his masculinity. He accuses her of hoodwinking him and vows revenge. The film traces the hero’s coming to terms with the heroine’s transgender identity, and their eventual reunion. Indeed, the plot is promising, as it breaks down the stereotypical heteronormative romance that is the staple in Indian cinema. However, is the film trans-inclusive?

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