This is a fertile moment to discuss representation. After Laxmii bombed an opportunity at trans representation, putting out a hasty corrective music video with trans rights activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, and Deepa Mehta battling her choices of casting and dubbing Funny Boy with inchoate Tamil, we had the worst of the lot- MX Player putting out a trailer of their show Pati, Patni Aur Panga, where a trans-woman is seen “cheating” a man because he did not know of her transition before marrying her. Not all representations are good representations.
Paurashpur has come into this mix, with Milind Soman playing a trans character in a kingdom where men are lecherous and women are victims. “Paurashpur ke saare mard ek jaise hote hai,” a woman voice-overs as the King, played by Annu Kapoor, pours hot molten wax on one of the women writhing on his bed. Here, the intention of Soman playing the trans character is that of positive representation. He pleads, “Yeh stree aur purush ke beech ka bhedbhav kab khatam hoga, Maharaj?” (In a year where the casting directors of Paatal Lok got a Manipuri trans woman to play the role of the trans woman, excuses for not hiring trans people for trans roles feel redundant.)
This series seems to take the phrase “lust for power” rather literally, peppered liberally with kisses, and hisses. It is the first time ALT Balaji has ventured into historic narratives, and it will be interesting to see how they merge the trappings of the historic genre with their trademark sleaze.