New Delhi: Set in the 80s-90s, Sacred Games is about Mumbai and its underbelly. It is also the story of Kukoo, a bar dancer who happens to be a transgender and the lover of an underworld don. While Kubra Sait received rave reviews from critics and the audience alike for her performance, there were some who were rattled by her appearance and wondered if she was a transgender in real life.
To this Kubra says, “I had people who had known me for 30 years send me a photo and ask ‘Is that you?’ I take it as a compliment that some people thought I am a transgender. I really enjoyed playing Kukoo, I did not find it either challenging or gutsy.”
Sharing her thoughts about the much-talked-about nude scene in the hit series, the actor said, “The nude scene was not a big deal for me, I am far more comfortable in my skin than anybody else is. Why is the nude scene such a big deal with the Indian audience? What if I was playing a pilot and flew a plane, would there be similar questions then as well? It is my job as an actor to play a character with honesty. How is it okay for the same people to watch nudity in The Shape of Water, a Hollywood movie, but question the same in Indian cinema? Why are we not telling our people that you are an adult too?”
On CBFC and its strict guidelines for films, Kubra says: “They should guide you, not dictate you. They should tell you what the content is about, then it is up to the audience to watch it or not, but they should not dictate the audience saying that they think it is wrong and hence forbid people from watching it.”
Sacred Games has turned out to be a game-changer for the Indian entertainment industry, and talking about the change that may come in the near future with Netflix’s upcoming products, Kubra says: “Our industry already has so many beautiful films. People have been watching a standard template because that’s what they have been exposed to, and they feel, ‘Arre yeh to chalta hai.’ Now when you have something new, they are like, ‘Arre yeh to alag hai, magar yeh bhi chalta hai.’ So if in fifteen days, Sacred Games can reach the entire world and be one of the top trending shows, then imagine what could happen in five years. Sacred Games has only been an outlet to encourage more out-of-the-box thinking. Only good products are going to give us the liberty to rise from where we’ve fallen.”
Discussing the ongoing comparison of Sacred Games to Narcos and Game of Thrones, Kubra feels that the three shows are connected by powerful scripts. “I cannot compare the three ever, but what I see in common is powerful writing. The common thread among these three shows is how beautifully the emotional graph has been captured. In all of them there are shades of grey in good people and shades of good in bad people. The idea of the villain being the bad and scary guy and the hero being the good guy has been erased in these series. The hero might be brave, but he is also human.”
“I actually asked Anurag, ‘dude you killed me…’ and he said, ‘that’s what you should do. When people are the happiest, take their heart,” said Kubra talking about the script’s freshness which has made the series so popular.
Would it have been better to cast a transgender actor in Kukoo’s role? “I am undoubtedly happy about the part I played. It is my job to act. But as a viewer, if I have to see the transgender community come up I would be happy. Me playing Kukoo has brought the LGBTQ community so much love, respect, and pride that this role will become a point of dialogue. And only when we have a dialogue we can have change. Even without realising that I could do something so beautiful and positive, I did the role with honesty and the result is in front of you. If somebody else would have done it with honesty it would be a pathbreaking role either way, and I would be there applauding the actor.”
So how Anurag Kashyap brief her about the role? “He said ‘Bohut accha role, hai, bohut critical role hai, you’re playing the lover of Nawazuddin, but it is a transsexual character and we have a frontal nudity scene.’ He told me to have faith, and assured me to tell him if I felt uncomfortable even for a second, and that he would sort out my
discomfort. And honestly, during the shoot, I never felt out of place. I rather felt too empowered in the show,” recalled Kubra.
The series which has become a hit upon releasing on July 6 might have 3-4 seasons in total in the coming days. “I think very few actors in our country get the opportunity to do something different from the usual roles they get. Society has created so many boxes to classify us. I am grateful that this role came to me, and I feel my journey has just begun, I believe it is going to be a fantastic ride!” said the actor, playing her cat, Shifu Sait!