Ivanka Das reveals she had ‘very bad experience’ with trans actors during Haddi shoot
Ghoomer actor Ivanka Das talks about only being offered roles of transgenders but also makes it clear she won't play a devoted wife or bhabhi on screen.
Ivanka Das, has featured in projects like Maja Ma, Sunflower and now Ghoomer and also has the film Haddi with Nawazuddin Siddiqui in her kitty, but still cannot understand why not many are eager to offer her roles of a woman. Ivanka is trans but wants to know why she is only offered roles of transgender characters. After working in several OTT projects and featuring on the cover of a popular magazine, Ivanka has now marked her silver screen debut with Ghoomer, in which she plays a vulnerable woman raised by Abhishek Bachchan as a sister. Also read: Virender Sehwag reviews Abhishek and Saiyami's Ghoomer: 'I never gave respect to spinner or listened to coach but…'
In an interview with Hindustan Times, Ivanka opened up about her struggles as a transsexual actor, her time on sets of Ghoomer and the troubles she faced while working with transgenders in Haddi. She also spoke about being ousted from Sushmita Sen-starrer Taali. Excerpts:
How did you get into acting?
After relocating to Mumbai, I had exhausted all the money that I had brought from home. I got frustrated as my serial was delayed and was then shelved. Then I got a call from Dance Deewane and I knew they had taken me for my viral look as I was bald at the time. But I was ousted from show when I was among top 12. From there, I got an offer for the show, Bombay Begums.
I know I am a woman…a transexual but I always got transgender roles. I understand I was in transition phase earlier but why am I not getting woman roles after I have changed? I am told that either I am too feminine for the trans role or they are only looking for a biological woman. They think transexuals can only play transgenders on screen.
Tell us about your role in Ghoomer.
I am a very impulsive and restless person but in Ghoomer, my character is a very innocent and vulnerable girl. This is my silver screen debut. Till now I have only worked on OTT, I was conscious that I was doing a film for the big screen with a legendary director. I was nervous and was preparing in advance to get into the role which required me to stammer.
How was to work with an acclaimed director like R Balki?
He is a perfectionist and old school. His vision of the camera, colour pad… he personally judges the character and how the actor is in real life. Understanding his vision and working with him was an amazing experience. He also helped me when I got intimidated by Abhishek Bachchan while R Balki had given me a different instruction. I got confused in between and started crying when he scolded me a bit. He came to me and said, “Bachcha, I know what are you suffering from, just perform by revisiting that in your heart." No one has ever given me so much personal guidance.
You will also be seen in Haddi. Tell us about the other actors we see around Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the new poster.
All in the crowd around Nawazuddin are transgenders in real. I am the only transexual among the cast and I play his friend in the film. He is amazing, very cooperative. Anurag Kashyap is also there and encouraged me a lot.
I had a little fight with the transgenders on set as they thought I was getting a different treatment on set as compared to them and I was enjoying different perks. I wasn’t treated differently because I was different from them but because I have a different position from them as an artist, I have done a decent amount of work already. They shouldn’t have fought with me over that and approach the production team instead. My body language is different from theirs and they used to even tease me. It was a very bad experience.
How difficult was it to break the glass ceiling and finally get roles in big projects?
I am still in the struggle phase. I want to play a lead role but I don’t want to play a heroine who can be someone’s wife or sister-in-law and take orders. It looks very monotonous, just like Taapsee Pannu doesn’t play anyone’s bhabhi on screen. Why can’t I play an advocate, a cop or a grey character? It’s fine if the script indicates that my character is an LGBT person, why do you unnecessarily show me like that forcefully if I don’t come across that way. If you are actually doing that then sell my face as the face of the project. How can you judge me as a transexual and not a woman.
Did you like Sushmita Sen's transformation in Taali?
Politics happened with me on that project. I was ousted from the show after three days of shoot.
Do you agree with male or female actors doing trans roles in films and shows?
First of all, gender doesn’t matter for a character. Any gender can play any character. I am okay with a biological man or woman playing a character from the LGBT community. But my question is why can’t we do it? It would be easy for people from the LGBT communities to play such characters on screen because they face similar issues in real life. The execution will be much more realistic. If a man or a woman can play a LGBT character, why can’t a person like me play a biological woman. What is the difference? It's all about the mindset. I think I can understand the perspectives of both the genders and have been aware of issues concerning both of them. Everyone should get a chance to play every character.