Ayushmann Khurrana and Vaani Kapoor have been appreciated and criticised for their performances in Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui, a romantic comedy that talks about the LGBTQ community and how is it being transgender in Indian society. Despite its flaws, here’s why you should watch it on your next movie night.
Ayushmann Khurrana and Vaani Kapoor-starrer Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui had a positive reception at the box office as the movie arrived in theatres back in December 2021. The rom-com discusses the stereotypes and struggles faced by the trans community in India.
However, despite being centred around the LGBTQ community, the movie fails at providing it with the representation it needs. Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui received criticism on the fact that a cisgender actor Vaani Kapoor was chosen to play the role of a transwoman.
Despite all its flaws, here are some reasons to watch Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui:
The major theme of the movie is based on the life of trans people and how they struggle for acceptance and respect in society. While there is a scene featuring a transwoman asking for money at the red light (the typical portrayal of transgenders in Bollywood), there’s a contrasting scene in the later half of the movie where Manu asks the same transwoman to have a coffee with him and asks for her help too.
This normalisation of identities is what is needed in the society.
The movie features actor Kanwaljit Singh as Brigadier Mohinder Brar, a father who supports his daughter through all her difficulties. Mohinder Brar does not discriminate or judges his daughter Maanvi and loves her for who she is. He supports his daughter while she struggles being a transgender in the Indian society. We hope to see more such portrayals of fathers who break the cycle of toxic masculinity.
Body image issues
As Maanvi and Manu spend time together, we are told that he wasn’t always the hunk. He narrates how his childhood had been traumatic after his mother’s death. He fell into depression and started eating a lot because of that he gained weight and was bullied by his friends. He then decided that he must have a great body and became a body-builder.
However problematic this might be, the bitter truth is that we all seek approval and validation through our appearance without even realising that we are much more than the way we look.
The film also features middle-age love story of Manu’s father. It has been shown that he liked a Pakistani woman named Tasneem and was seen conversing with her on video calls at various instances. He has been a widower for more than 20 years for his life and wanted to have a partner in his life. The idea of finding love and companionship in the later stages of life has also been discussed briefly as we see the two lovers getting together towards the end of the movie.
Education about gender identities
As the two leads drift apart and Manu realises his love for Maanvi isn’t based on her gender, he attempts to understand her better as a transwoman by educating himself about their life. He tries to realise her struggles as he watches experiences of other transgenders and also collects knowledge about the surgeries involved in the process of sex reassignment.
However well presented, the movie had its own flaws and imperfections, the stereotypical characterisation of a lesbian as a tomboy per se. Even so, it is a good start for Bollywood to normalise them in the Indian society. We can only hope that the industry learns a better way to represent such issues without any stereotypical characterisations with time!
Views expressed by author are their own.