MUMBAI: Actor and choreographer Ivanka Das, who has been part of web series Bombay Begum and film Ghoomar, says that as a trans actor, her roles often get limited. She adds that this should not be the case, and equal opportunities must be given.
“It's really frustrating when I don't get the kind of roles I deserve and the kind of opportunities that I want, as per my talent. But somewhere I have to work for myself and manage my home, there are a lot of expenses that I have to pay, so I have to do the work I get. I still try to think and sort the kind of work that suits me and helps me to grow, because if I do anything that comes in my way, I might not be able to grow. People would provide you with the kind of work that you have been doing so far, because that's what they think that this particular person has been doing these kinds of roles so the big roles won't suit. All of these are very frustrating. I don't have any back up. If I have a good status symbol and pick works that suit my profile then only it's going to work. I believe I am a good actor but in the industry all the actors are being characterized as side role actors, transgender actors, supporting actors and all like this, they do such things and it is very bad. I think an actor is an actor. It's okay to cast them as per the requirement of the role or the look but first take an audition. But even before taking the auditions, the lead is already chosen. How much time do you need to understand or to figure out what kind of work a particular actor can do if they really don't get the work. If a person is transexual, so will you give them the role of a trans person only? That too every time? So a transexual person will get work for a while and will sit idle for a long time. But when it comes to some actors, they are getting roles often and they never sit idle. For how long I will be given side roles? In our industry, it also happens that a person gets the lead role in big films without any experience in acting. I don't understand how they get roles, and it gets really frustrating. In this condition I really try hard to handle my emotions by spending time with my loved ones because it really gets hard someday and I do get depressed because the way I have seen myself working hard, I don't know when I am going to achieve what I deserve,” she says.
She adds that competition is everywhere in the industry, and it takes time to set a place for yourself. “I agree that there's no guarantee in our industry because in the industry, day by day, the number of artists are increasing. There is a huge competition and everyone is very talented. So you can't remove someone just like that. So I think that is why most of the people don't get a chance because it would lead to more and more actors in the industry. That is why they don't want new people and want to work with whom they have worked before. So sometimes the audience gets bored of watching the same actor in different roles. That is why a newcomer is picked and given a fresh role which makes his career. But a newcomer is often not given a chance to work in Bollywood. So this is how it works in the industry. But it is true that talented people get work and the credit goes to the good directors who are able to identify their talent. But with all this, there's a lot of politics in the industry. From becoming a hero then a zero, this circle goes on. At the same time there are very rare actors who are really good. It is quite surprising that everyone wants to get into the artistic profession. It is a trend and people think of becoming a model on social media and they learn to groom themselves,” she says.
She adds that networking matters a lot here. “It matters a lot because only If we build a level of strong networking and contacts with B-town actors and producers, it becomes easy, I feel. After spending time as an actor, I sometimes feel that until you make your contacts and relationships, you might not get that big break. Some people don't want to make contacts quickly; they have set their boundaries. However, luck also plays a big role here. Our value is tied to the audience. If we get an opportunity and resonate with the audience, gaining their approval, then there's a chance they might support us,” she says.
She adds, “Contacts make a big difference. As far as I think, the work I have done in Ghoomar, I think people should be asking me for a lot for work. I should get at least ten thousand calls, but that many don't come. According to me it really should be based on talent, but no, people look at you and give you work on the basis of your contacts.”
Talking about nepotism in the industry, she says. “It is very clear that nepotism exists. Once people start getting work, they stop talking about nepotism. Outsiders also get a chance to work, but at the same time, they are often disrespected. I do know which kind of stories or role outsiders get. It's not that they are given a chance to work as a lead character in any big film. In big banner films, they always prefer to have big stars who have been working in this industry for years and representing the brand. Either those big stars would get good work or their children. For the promotions of the films both of the lead characters as well as supporting characters, and parallel leads are taken. But when it comes to their status symbol, less followers on social media, but they are playing the role of a parallel lead in the film and are respected for that. But people don't give them the value and respect that they deserve when it comes to standing in the front row or promotions. There are a lot of things when it comes to partiality. It hurts badly.”