Kubbra and Nawazuddin in Sacred Games Image: Twitter
It has only been a week since Sacred Games came out and anyone with a Netflix account is already all caught up, asking for more. This is video on demand at its finest hour.
The first Indian Netflix original is the most relevant ice-breaker on any table and with good reason. The crime thriller, based on Vikram Chandra's 2006 novel of the same name, saw some of the best performances of the year and is coming back with a second season.
Kubbra Sait, who plays the role of Kukoo, crime lord Ganesh Gaitonde's (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) moll, received tremendous accolades for her portrayal of a transgender.
Needless to say, it opens up a really important conversation in the desi cultural milieu, especially on the subject of representation. And Kubbra has weighed in on it.
An entertainment journalist tweeted about Kubbra's role and how it could have been an opportunity for a real transgender actor. "@kubrasait is no doubt fantastic in the series but it's sad that one of the few opportunities created for a transgender person in Hindi film/television didn't go to someone who is actually transgender," she tweeted.
Kubbra opened up about her stance in response. "I grabbed the opportunity with both hands and feet. Thank you for your love. My turnaround time was 10 days from the first audition. It’s impossible to comment on who could’ve been casted (sic) or auditioned for the same. In positive light, it has opened doors that didn’t know existed," tweeted the actor.
The issue of trans representation is also taking Hollywood by storm right now. Especially after Scarlett Johansson, a cisgender actor, was offered to play the role of a transgender gangster named Jean Marie Gill.
A cisgender is basically an individual whose gender identity corresponds with the sex they were assigned to at birth. The systematic cis-washing of the industry is receiving tremendous backlash.
Kubbra insists Kukoo's gender is not as crucial to the narrative as her humanity. "What I loved about Kukoo was how humane she was. The gender was last thing to set her apart. She ruled hearts in her skin, and wore it with pride. Respect to many more who can make that change today," she tweeted.
Kukoo is revealed to be a transgender in episode four of the web series, in one of the strongest sequences of the show. Kubbra recently revealed director Anurag Kashyap made her do the scene seven times.
"I would literally fall on the floor crying every time. He made me cry real-time seven times. And when we finished the scene, I was still crying on the floor and he hugged me and said I love you so much and thank you for giving me this scene. I walked out of the room and everyone clapped, I didn't know it was so beautifully done," the actor told DNA recently.
Trans actors such as Laverne Cox, Trace Lysette and Jamie Clayton have all spoken out about casting a cis person in the trans role which takes away opportunities from transgender artistes and also overlooks the need of representation.
But in Bollywood, there has been a substantial dearth of trans characters, with some attempts gone incredibly wrong. Remember Rakhi Sawant in Masti? *Shivers*
That's mainly because awareness about the third gender is still a long way to go and some recent instances confirm this theory. For proper trans representation, more and more scripts need to focus on inclusivity and do away with offensive stereotypes.