Two talented actors with illustrious, decade-long careers. Yet, when it comes to finding a place to live, Living Smile Vidya and Angel Gladdy don’t seem to get a break. Apart from all that they have managed to achieve which includes stellar collaborations with international theatre groups, to the society, they are nothing but transgender women who are to be kept arm’s length. As their latest project, a documentary by critically acclaimed director Leena Manimekalai titled ‘Is It Too Much to Ask’ gets screened at IDSFFK, we managed to catch up with the duo.Though its focus remains in chronicling the hardships of two single transgender women as they look for a rental apartment within Chennai, the film doesn’t resort to a bleak, sentimental approach. Unlike the sad characters we are used to seeing on screen, Leena’s protagonists are vibrant beings who refuse to back down. They rap, dance, lapse into occasional laments about society’s unfairness and resume their lives, only to continue searching for a roof over their head.
Keeping the dream alive
“I have done few short films and documentaries, but nothing like this.‘Is it too much to ask’ is the first project where I actually sang a song,” says Angel Gladdy who has previously been part of projects like Beyond Binary, an Indo-Korean play.Composed as an ongoing conversation between the duo with occasional meetups involving hateful house owners, the 30-minute long production is largely about the dreams that the artistes harbour about their future home. From modular kitchens to terracotta artworks, the imageries fill the script only to be dissed by comments like “We can’t allow non-Brahmins in our house!”.“This film is our life itself,” shares Living Smile Vidya, as she recounts the past year where she had to relocate thrice. Citing the long list of rules that she is supposed to abide by, the artiste says that the treatment can only be considered as less than humane. “I want to be like you. To be respected a normal human being with a life, more importantly, a place to call home,” concludes Vidya.