A smile of achievement and a dash of coyness is what you first notice when speaking with trans woman actor Anjali Ameer whose debut film, Peranbu, has opened to great reviews. "People have said I did not act like a debutante and I cannot express how happy I'm about that," says Anjali who is on cloud nine for starring alongside Mammootty in her very first film.
"Mammukka, Ram sir, and many from the Tamil and Malayalam industry have wished me well. In a film featuring Mammukka, I'm glad that critics noticed me and mentioned me in their reviews -- especially the scene in which I travel in Amudhavan's cab, and the one in which he berates me. Even people from Rotterdam (where the film premiered) called to wish me, and members of my community were happy with my role too," says Anjali who makes fun of her Tamil that's got a strong Malayalam accent. "My Tamil knowledge can be easily categorised as 'before Peranbu' and 'after Peranbu' (laughs)."
The laughter gets louder when I ask about how she got her acting break. "I was modelling and did a couple of TV shows. Mammootty sir had apparently seen one of my documentaries and suggested me to Ram sir. When I got a call from Mammukka's office during an ad shoot, I thought someone was pulling a prank and did not pay heed," says Anjali, who compares it to the scene from Ghajiniinvolving Asin. "When they called me again, I asked them where they got my contact from, and I got to know that a reputed TV channel gave my number. I cross-checked with the channel who affirmed they were actually calling from Mammukka's office. Following that, I was called in for an audition and I did a screen test," says Anjali.