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Living smile vidya demands queer sensitivity in censor board

Living smile vidya demands queer sensitivity in censor board

Trans rights advocate Living Smile Vidya calls for inclusion of trans and queer individuals in the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC, also known as the Censor Board). This comes in response to the negative portrayal of trans and queer characters in the recent Tamil film “Mark Antony,” directed by Adhik Ravichandran.

The film faced criticism for sexualizing trans women, misrepresenting gay men, and using homophobic slurs, such as the derogatory “avana nee” comment aimed at mocking gay men.

Vidya’s cinema journey and activism

In an Instagram post, Vidya shared her personal journey from begging in Pune to becoming a passionate cinema-goer. Despite the hardships she faced, her love for cinema remained undeterred. However, she was deeply hurt by the derogatory portrayal of the trans community in films.

Vidya has been a vocal critic of the Indian film industry’s portrayal of the trans and queer community since 2006. Despite facing threats and harsh replies from fans, she continued to express her concerns through writing, speeches, and plays. Her efforts have led to some changes in the industry, but she believes there is still a long way to go.

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In her post, Vidya highlighted that films are not only for cis-heteros but for everyone. She emphasized that everyone, regardless of their background or profession, pays money to watch movies because they love them. Therefore, it is crucial for filmmakers to respect all viewers.

Living Smile Vidya observed a positive change in the portrayal of LGBTQIA+ characters in films from “Onayum Aatukuttiyum” to “Natchathiram Nagargirathu,” but expressed disappointment after watching “Mark Antony.” She questioned why such derogatory portrayals still exist and emphasized that films should cater to a diverse audience. She also criticized film reviewers and critics for not condemning the film’s offensive portrayal of trans and queer individuals.

Supported LGBTQ+ protests in 2018

It is to be noted that Mark Antony’s lead star Vishal, who is also the General Secretary of the Nadigar Sangam (also known as South Indian Artistes’ Association), had previously in 2018 supported LGBTQIA+ community’s protests against Iruttu Araiyil Murattu Kuthu for objectifying and misrepresenting queer persons. However, neither the actor, nor the director have commented on the criticism that Mark Antony has received. 

Her plea has sparked a conversation about the need for more inclusivity and diversity in film censorship. It underscores the importance of representation in shaping narratives and fostering a more inclusive society.

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She urged Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister, MK Stalin, to include Trans and Queer individuals in the CBFC, referring to the government’s LGBTQIA+ policy. By having representatives from these communities, films can ensure accurate and non-offensive portrayals. Notably, Vishal, the lead actor in “Mark Antony” and the General Secretary of the Nadigar Sangam, supported LGBTQIA+ protests in 2018, but neither he nor the director have responded to the criticism directed at the film.

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