While the earliest instances of men dressed as women are really old (Even the Mahabharat mentions Arjun disguised as a woman, Brihannala), films and television shows have always had men dressed up as women. But perhaps more than ever, this year, there number of such instances have been tremendous.
From various male actors donning the garb of a woman in Comedy Circus to the famous Gutthi (Sunil Grover), Dadi (Ali Asgar) and Palak (Kiku Sharda) in Comedy Nights With Kapil, to Gaurav Gera, who post his sensitive portrayal in Jassi, made a comeback with Mrs Pammi Pyarelal. Gaurav’s character, and the show, was rather garish, and at times crass and unfunny. As a result, it wasn’t surprising that it didn’t find many takers.
Most actors stick to comic roles while dressed up as women, but there are a few others too who portray serious roles too. We have seen men playing the role of eunuchs in Jodha Akbar, while Vishwajeet Pradhan cross-dresses for a serious role in Ek Boond Ishq.
Playing a woman isn’t easy, however. Actors don’t just dress up in saris and churidars, but even endure threading and waxing for the perfect look. Most men wear heels for the proper gait.
As waxing is painful, some opt to get their arms and legs shaved. Some even pierced their ears to wear heavy earrings. Gaurav lost weight to play Pammi, and was on a diet to keep his body in shape, especially his stomach. He said he felt gorgeous dressed as a woman, but that it was physically draining. Almost everyone admitted it was tough to dress up like a woman, as they took two hours to get ready and equally long hours to remove the make-up and costume.
The male actors have often received compliments about their body parts — ankles, hands and collarbones. Gaurav was teased on the sets, while apparently Shaheer Sheikh, who plays Arjun’s avatar Brihannala in Mahabharat, was told that he looked pretty as a girl. The other thing that happens is that actors’ wives and girlfriends ensure they drive the message home about how women need time to get ready.