For 33-year-old Gowri Savithri, a transgender model from Kerala's Kottayam district, a call from an ad production agency offering to cast her in an advertisement of a popular textile brand came as a pleasant surprise.
Gowri had created waves of change two years ago, after modelling along with another transgender person for designer Sharmila Nair’s collection of sarees called Mazhavillu (rainbow).
Although the pictures grabbed national and international headlines, it failed to generate a sustained conversation about employing transgender people in the modelling industry, Gowri points out.
But now, a huge hoarding of Gowri and a male model Mathai, stands tall in the Thrissur Swaraj round, thanks to Karalkada, a pioneer textile brand in the state.
Karalkada, that was opened in Thiruvananthapuram in 1855, opened its store in Thrissur last year.
The hoarding has the tagline: “Gender has many colours, but kasavu has only one.”
This is one of the three hoardings part of Karalkada's new ad campaign designed by DocArt productions. While one of the hoardings feature a grandmother, the other features an old man.
'Didn't Want to Stick to Conventional Norms'
Speaking to TNM about their latest advertising campaign, Deepa, manager of Karalkada who looks into customer relations and marketing, says that they did not want to stick to conventional norms while doing an ad.
As a traditional brand, it is easier for us to communicate to our customers; they would be more receptive when we take up something. We know how many from the transgender community are looked down upon. So when the ad company suggested this idea, I didn’t have any doubts in my mind.Deepa
“In fact, it is not like we gave a transgender model an opportunity to be featured here, but it is more like a privilege for us too," she added.
The ad campaign has been designed by DocArt productions, a company rolled out by designer Sharmila and a Calcutta-based filmmaker Ratheesh.
For Sharmila, Karalkada was an established brand that was open to supporting the transgender community.
"Two years ago, when I was looking for a location to shoot for my series of sarees featuring trans models Gowri and Maya, we faced so many difficulties. People would just stare at them and make them uncomfortable,” she said.
But this time around, it was different. While people were curious to know what was happening, they did not make Gowri uncomfortable. That way, we as a society, has improved.Sharmila
(This article has been published in association with The News Minute)
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