Meet S Negha, the first person to receive the Kerala State Film award in the transgender category. She won the award for ‘Antharam’ directed by journalist P Abhijit.
Life is always a struggle. Isn’t this award a recognition of your struggles?
I am grateful to the Kerala government for this honour. Finally, all my struggles and hard work over the years paid off. I feel like I have finally achieved something in life. And that gives me some confidence. ‘Antharam’ chronicles the struggles of a transwoman called Anjali after she enters the life of domesticity. I am from Thanjavoor but now reside at Ambattur in Chennai.
What was your family’s reaction when they heard about this recognition?
When I called my mother to inform her, she said she was happy. But unfortunately, I can’t experience her joy firsthand as I am not allowed to visit my home. When my father passed away a few months ago, they called to inform me but forbade me from visiting. They would have to answer a lot of questions this society will ask them.
When did you leave home?
My village is at Thiruvaroor near Thanjavur. My trans identity was always a matter of concern and embarrassment for my family. My father would often beat me up. I was always subjected to taunts and thrashings. That’s why I left home at the age of 18. And I have never gone back. I have four sisters and I am sure their children have all grown up now. They might not even be aware of my existence. They don’t talk to me. I am only in touch with my mother.
Are there opportunities for trans women in cinema?
Most of the directors are open-minded. But a lot of technicians and associates are transphobic. Some are scared, while others make fun of us.
Which are your upcoming projects?
I am currently acting in ‘The Road’ starring Trisha. Madhura is the location. I am planning to direct a documentary or cinema that documents the struggles of the trans community in India.