In Indian film industries, even when transgender women are portrayed on screen, the role is played by a cis man. Kajal's foray into movies will change that.

From an RJ to a lead actor Meet Kajal a trans woman from Ktaka breaking new ground
news LGBTQI+ Wednesday, June 13, 2018 - 16:09

Over the last few years, Kajal has tried her hand at a variety of jobs, and has been harbouring many a dream. Two years ago, she planned to open a beauty parlour. A year later, she wanted to be a radio jockey and this year, she decided she wanted to act.

While the beauty parlour never panned out, Kajal, a trans woman became the first transgender person in coastal Karnataka to become a radio jockey in November 2017 when she went on the air for the first time on Radio Sarang, 107.8, a community radio channel run by St. Aloysius College (Autonomous) in Mangaluru.

Earlier this week, she ticked one more box in her personal bucket list after being cast as the lead in a film. She will be appearing as the protagonist in Mysuru-based director Chandan Gowda's film, Love Baba. 

Kajal says that her journey has been long, arduous and yet interesting at the same time. "It has kept me on my toes," she admits. She was born in Mandya and now resides in Brahmavar in Udupi district. 

She credits a professor at Mahatma Gandhi Memorial (MGM) College in Udupi for inspiring her to work towards her dreams. "Manjunath sir asked me to share my story in colleges and this improved my public speaking skills. He always encouraged me to study and work towards what  I wanted to do," she says.

Through Manjunath, Kajal met Avinash Kamath, the Editor-in-Chief of Udupi-based Spandana TV who gave Kajal her first exposure to the workings of a media house.

Around this time, Kajal was invited to speak at various forums on issues that the transgender community faces, and in one such event, Abhishek Shetty from Radio Sarang in Mangaluru, got in touch with her. "He asked me if I wanted to be a radio jockey and I could not believe it for a moment," exclaims Kajal. 

On November 21 2017, Kajal's voice rang out on air for the first time as she anchored 'Shubhamangala', a show that raises issues related to the transgender community. 

Soon after, in another feather on her cap, she was cast in a role in 'ICU Noduve Ninna', a play by HP Raviraj at the Rangabhoomi theatre in Udupi. "Raviraj Sir gave me a role in the play and this gave me exposure to acting, and soon enough, a film director came calling," she says. 

She is now set to break new ground once again by becoming the first transgender person to act in a leading role in a film. "I have dreamt of acting in a film since I was a child but I never thought it was possible," she says. 

Kajal also believes that the film will prove that transgender persons can take up leading roles in films, something that is lacking in films made in India. "Many times, transgender persons are portrayed as outcasts or in a comedic role. How often is it that you see a transgender person in a leading role in the film? In this film, the character I am playing is that of a woman but the difference is just that it is played by a trans woman," she says defiantly. 

The shooting of the film will see Kajal crisscross in Karnataka to locations including Sakleshpur, Mysuru, Mangaluru and Udupi. 

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