Nepal gets a new villain - a transgender

May 8th, 2009 - 2:47 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, May 8 (IANS) Thirteen years ago, Nepal’s Maoists became dreaded when they began an underground war against the state. Later, the last king Gyanendra became hated when he strove to make himself an all-powerful monarch. Now, with monarchy abolished and the Maoists having laid down arms, Nepalis are being presented with a new villain.

Veteran Nepali film director Shovit Basnet’s upcoming movie “Chino” (the sign) is set to usher in a new trend in villainy.

The revenge drama will see Nepal’s fresh-faced heroine Regina Upreti battling an evil schemer who kills people as easily as one would swat a fly.

However, the new villain is neither a man nor a woman. For the first time, Nepal’s fledgling film industry will see a debut by a transgender.

“I play a transgender called Kajol Madam who dresses up as a woman, kicking butt in high-heeled boots,” says Rajendra Khadgi, one of Nepal’s best known fight directors who was chosen by Basnet to play the unusual role.

There are more surprises in store. The karate-playing ruthless villain is surrounded by a unique cohort of bodyguards.

They are all Somali refugees who were duped into coming to Nepal, thinking they were going to Naples, and are now trying their hands at football as well as films in Nepal to eke out a livelihood.

“Rajendra had a Somali friend Yusuf, who used to visit him on the sets during shooting,” says Basnet. “That gave me the idea of casting them as Kajol’s bodyguards. There are 15 Somalis in the film. They speak English and instead of dubbing their dialogues in Nepali, we will have Nepali subtitles.”

The 36-year-old Basnet came up with the unique villain for his 16th film because he was looking for something different.

“My first film ‘Raj Kumar’ (the prince) had a regular villain,” he says. “Then a recent film ‘Durga’ had a woman villain. I wanted to give my audience something new.”

The 49-year-old Khadgi accepted the role because it was tough.

“I once had a long interactive session with a group of transgenders, Also, there are some of them in the film industry, working as make-up artistes and dancers. I studied their ways to make my character realistic,” he says.

Till last year, when Nepal got its first openly gay lawmaker after a historic election, the sexual minorities were ostracised by a conservative society.

But Khadgi, a black belt in karate who has fought alongside such Bollywood villains as Kiran Kumar and traded blows with Shatrughan Sinha and Salman Khan, says no one sniggers at him.

“In fact, my wife, a trained beautician, helps with my make-up. At home, I used to be a stern father. But after becoming Kajol Madam, my children say they have seen a softening in me and like me better,” he says.

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