In French, Elle translates to ‘she. In the video, alongside Laxmi and celebrity transgender make-up artist Jaanmoni Das, seven others who face varied stigmas – based on skin colour, body types, gender fluidity, career choice, menstruation and more – in their real life, also make an appearance.
Laxmi, who scripted, directed and acted in the video, also turns singer and lyricist in it for the first time. She tells us, “Elles is a sneak peek into the lives of nine individuals and shows how they overcome stigmas to emerge confident. For instance, a little girl traumatised by her first period learning to enjoying her childhood; a dusky girl emboldening herself to embrace her skin colour, a plus-sized woman loving her body, a home-confined pregnant woman deciding to practice yoga, and more.”
She also mentions how the video shows a tall woman who belittles her ‘height-shamers’ by becoming a successful lawyer; a youngster, born a man, coming out to his parents as a gender-fluid person; a street dancer who eventually wins big stages; a transwoman who opens her own makeover studio and an elderly woman who pursues her passion for dance.
Laxmi, who has met them all in real life, endearingly recollects each instance. To mention a few, “I met Jaanmoni while taking part in her recent salon-opening event, and felt she should be part of Elles. Adv K K Kavitha, the tall woman in the video, is from my place Vaikom. Samson Lei, through whom we show women trapped in male bodies, my student Panchami Aravind who represents dusky women and the others too are women whom I have watched braving stigmas in real life.” Kavya Madhav, Lakshmi Shaji, Induja Prakash and Shyamala Xavier are the others who appears as themselves in the video.
Interestingly, the video’s street dancer bit is an episode from Laxmi’s own life. “When I was 19, I had no big stages unlike now and used to perform in France’s streets to earn money. And that’s what I have incorporated into the video, through my portion,” she says.
Elles’ music, composed by Ramu Raj, also showcases diversity. It has Carnatic vocals by Bhagyalakshmi Guruvayur, Malayalam rap by Indulekha Warrier and Western vocals by Paris Laxmi herself. All of them penned their lines too, themselves.
What urged her to make such a video? “I wanted to showcase the different kinds of feminine energies around us, artistically. The video also wishes to say that all kinds of women are facing stigmas, but we can overcome them too. I wanted to show the power of the feminine energy,” says Laxmi.
As for challenges in putting the video together, Laxmi reveals it was in incorporating all their stories into a few seconds. “Composer Ramu guided me on the music and we worked hard to narrate each story well within around nine seconds. It wasn’t my plan to accommodate nine types of women but when it happened, I felt it’s a good number. It might remind one of navarasas, though the stories aren’t representing individual rasas,” Laxmi says.