Kalashnikov, the feature film starring transgender rights activist, writer and actor Kalki Subramaniam, has received the Best Film Jury Selection at the 9th edition of Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival which took place in New Delhi recently.
Kalki shared the news on Facebook and said she was proud and happy to be part of the film. She also said in a post, “The film is based on three shades of characters, black, white and grey. I play the white shade. The movie is out for the festival now in 2019.”
Kalashnikov is directed by newcomer Balakrishna P Subbiah, and stars Kalki, Deepak Sharma and Mahesh Udeshi in the lead. A Times of India report says that director Balakrishna, who has worked as a visual effects director in Bollywood for over 25 years, decided to make this film because of its intriguing story. The title is inspired by Mikhail Kalashnikov, who developed the AK-47 assault rifle.
Speaking to Silverscreen, Kalki says it was the story line and her role in the film that made her want to pursue it. “I play a transgender woman who is a Tamil speaking person who goes to Mumbai for a living and is later in a village in Punjab where most of the story is set. She goes through a lot for survival and her experiences of exploitation are things that really happen to trans people. Her character is synonymous to trans lives.”
Kalki says that she is happy to be the first trans person to play a lead role in a Hindi movie. “I needed to carry her personality. Even though I have not had these experiences of moving to another place or being rejected by my family, I know how it feels because I grew up with my transgender community. Playing the role was important to me. It was also challenging to speak Hindi. The director did not want anyone to dub so I had to learn the dialogues and their meaning. I’m based in Pollachi and the shooting was far away, in and around Mohali. I’m proud of how the film has turned out. We worked really hard and I hope it goes many places.”
This is Kalki’s second feature film after Narthagi in Tamil which released back in 2011. She starred in the lead as a trans woman in a village in Tanjavur. It was written and directed by Vijayapadm, produced by Punnagai Poo Gheetha. She recently also made a special appearance in the song ‘Oru Viral Puratchi’ in Sarkar. Kalki says she chooses her films with care. “After Narthagi I got many commercial film offers which included glamorous roles, item numbers and all that. I refused to do them, I’m against women’s bodies being exploited for commercial reasons. I’m predominantly an activist and artist. Even if only do four to five films in my life time I want them to be remembered.”
Image Courtesy: Kalki Subramaniam Facebook