This week we have Dream Girl 2 releasing, and the highlight of the film is Ayushmann Khurana playing a woman in it. Of course, he is not the first hero to attempt such a cross-dressed coup in Indian cinema. There are quite a few actors who have aced the female roles.
Here’s a compilation of some memorable movies in which male actors aced in female roles.
Chachi 420 (1996/1997)
This has to be the best of the lot in this genre. Kamal Haasan truly served up a delectable cocktail of fun and humour underpinned with certain emotional sincerity. It is one of the few films that does not slip into the gross territory — an inevitable failing in this genre.
Yet, both Avvai Shanmugi and its Hindi remake, Chachi 420, don’t miss out on the comedy that this gender-switch role play offers. A loose remake of the Hollywood film Mrs. Doubtfire, Avvai Shanmugi can be a case study in providing cinematic excellence in mainstream commercial movies. Only Kamal Haasan is capable of delivering such things consistently.
Dileep is no stranger to playing a character with effeminate shades. His Chanthupottu (2005) is a good case in point. But here in Mayamohini, he plays a full-fledged woman, as it were. And he sure does a good job of body language and style. This is a typical brainless comedy. But for the most part, it works due to Dileep’s comedic timing. Even the double-entendre dialogues don’t make you squirm much.
Aunty No 1 (1998)
It was the 90s. The peak of the suggestive jokes of Govinda, Kader Khan, Anupam Kher, Saeed Jaffrey, Sadashiv Amarpurkar and Satish Kaushik. This movie had it all. Govinda playing the role of Maharani Kanakalakshmi, brings the roof down with his antics that made the conservatives roll their eyes. It was a no-holds-barred, mindless masala movie. But Govinda was fun as only he can be.
Apna Sapna Money Money (2006)
Director Sangeeth Sivan brings a Priyadarshan vibe to the film with a gaggle of cast and a plot that revolves around mistaken identities. Riteish Deshmukh is a hoot as Sania Badnaam, and his escapades with Anupam Kher bring the roof down. But the jokes had more than double meaning in their import. But what to do? It is the fate of this type of film.
A young man to woo his lady love (otherwise way out of his league) dons the lady getup. It is the same old story. But with the young and energetic Sivakarthikeyan as the lead, this film, despite its problematic portions, works for the most part. Along with the beautiful Keerthy Suresh, the film is a youthful entertainer made much cooler thanks to the beautiful camerawork of P C Sreeram. A fun-filled caper, even if predictable.
Chitram Bhalare Vichitram (1991)
The story- an adaptation of Sailesh Dey’s Bengali play Joy Maa Kali Boarding, spawned many others. A bunch of friends face difficulty in getting a house for rent. So, one of them dresses as a woman to pose as a family. The landlady is impressed. But the trouble is that the landlady’s daughter is in love with the man playing the woman. This film was remade in Kannada as Bombat Hendthi (1992) and Tamil as Aanazhagan (1995). In general, this is the template for many movies in this genre. Naresh as Raja and Prema is a riot, and his performance brought him many awards. It is a please-all entertainer of that era.
Paying Guests (2009)
This film is a remake of Sailesh Dey’s Bengali play Joy Maa Kali Boarding. But here, there is a twist. Two men here don the sari and many other lady outfits. Shreyas Talpade as Karishma and Javed Jaffrey as Kareena bring the roof down with their romps and horseplay. It again teeters on vulgarity. But then again, this is what you need to expect when the treatment is for the whistlers and boisterous front-benchers.
Njan Marykutty (2018)
Born Mathuketty, he becomes she, the eponymous Marykutty. The film’s story is about this transformation’s emotional strife and physical struggles. Jayasurya as the lead is spectacular and is among his best performances to date. The original plan was to make a comedy movie on the subject. Just as well, they changed tack.
Super Deluxe (2019)
This film is a typical Thiagarajan Kumararaja crazy ride. It is one of Tamil cinema’s most eccentric and boldest attempts. It is impossible to categorize Super Deluxe into one particular genre or even a few. As a film, it is, at times, crazy, at times dark, at times philosophical, at times fun and equally emotional in parts. The moving parts certainly belong to Vijay Sethupathi as the third gender Shilpa. The scenes question gender dynamics and one’s basic freedom to choose who he or she wants to be.
This Mahesh Bhatt film became a hit mostly for the villain, Maharani, played with menace by Sadashiv Amrapurkar. His depiction of transgender pimp was scary and oddly funny. The dialogue, ‘Yahan ka raja, is jism ke bazaar ka maharaja, aur naam, maharani (I am the king of this place, the emperor of the flesh trade, and my name is Maharani)’, among the iconic ones in Hindi film history.