Jayasuriya’s Njaan Marykutty

A conversation I had with a friend several years back changed how I saw trans women who asked for money on the streets. He said there was warranted authority in the way they asked for money, as if they were saying ‘I am on the streets because you all refused to accept me for who I am. Now cough up’. The conversation stayed with me — while there was sympathy before, now I felt responsible. And when #NjanMarykutty asks the same question, it brought back some of the painful stories I’ve heard during some of my interactions with transwomen for work.

Njan Marykutty, for me, was similar to #Aramm last year. It’s not a well-made film but it asks questions, several right ones amid a few unnecessary transgressions. #Jayasuriya’s astounding performance makes up for the abrupt editing, the perfunctory staging and the overreaching music. It also makes you want to forgive the film for making a wonder woman out of Marykutty. (She gets to be RJ Angel for Vision FM — an angel backed by a vision.) She is still amazing even if she didn’t posses so many talents. Maybe, that was the director’s way of bringing us on to Mary’s side.

There are moments which make you extremely uncomfortable, even more so as a woman. Everytime she is touched without her consent, everytime she is asked to look down, I curled up in my seat with discomfort. But the credit for that squarely goes to #Jayasuriya. Marykutty’s stoically proud face bears the doggedness of a fighter. How #Marykutty reacts when someone apologises to her for the first time, when she gets her first letter and how she reacts when her dad accepts — such moments stand out but I still ended up walking out, thinking of what more Marykutty could have made us realise, had she found a better director.

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