We are thrilled to launch our New Year edition of SheSight with an indomitable individual – Ivanka Das, a true beacon of resilience. A woman who is practically a force of nature, crafting her own life story. We’re not just talking about her making it big in the Indian entertainment scene – we’re diving into the real deal, the resilience that has been her superpower. As we unfold her story, you will discover how resilience has not only shaped her life but has also been the driving force behind her inspiring journey, packed with strength. It’s a story of someone who faced the tough stuff, stood tall, and turned challenges into victories. This edition is all about the resilience that’s been Ivanka Das’s secret sauce, making every bit of her journey nothing short of extraordinary. Stick around for a real, raw, and seriously empowering tale.
In an exclusive conversation with Tishya Sharma on SheSight, Ivanka spills the beans on her journey of self-discovery, tackling societal expectations, and embracing her true identity. We’re peeling back the layers of Ivanka’s life, from her formative years to her impactful presence in the entertainment world.
Ivanka began her career as a dance choreographer in Delhi before making waves in Mumbai’s modelling industry, gaining attention on the hit dance show “Dance Deewane.” But that was just the beginning. Fast forward to 2019, and she graced the cover of Vogue, a massive milestone that catapulted her into the spotlight of the entertainment world. From the bustling streets of Kolkata to the glitz of the Netflix series “Bombay Begums” in 2020 and a significant role in the Bollywood movie “Ghommar,” Ivanka has carved out her own space in the limelight.
“I don’t want to be labeled a ‘Trans star,'” Ivanka boldly declares, “but the woman in me, Ivanka Das, wants to be a superstar one day.” It’s not about flashy cars and penthouse apartments for her; she’s on a mission to create a legacy.
Recalling her early struggles, Ivanka opens, saying, “I was a very handsome man, you know, and looked exactly how a guy should look. But my behavior was very ladylike, and everybody judged me constantly, and bullied me because I was too effeminate.” And guess what? She proved them all wrong. When Ivanka came out, she didn’t cut ties with her past; instead, she faced rejection from her family head-on. Even in her early marriage, she stayed true to herself, asking her partner to leave rather than let two lives be affected by mere rejection.
So, here is an exhilarating ride through Ivanka Das’s inspiring journey – a story of courage, identity, and the unstoppable pursuit of dreams!
Tell us about your early days in Kolkata. How did your childhood shape you into the person you are today?
Ivanka: Oh, those memories! People in the neighborhood treated me like their own, and it was always an adventure. As a kid, people often mistook me for a girl. It was a bit amusing and, at times, challenging. Growing up in Kolkata had its difficulties, especially with the loss of my parents, and those early experiences became part of my story. But looking back, it added a layer of resilience. It made me comfortable with who I am, regardless of societal expectations.
Your journey involved a significant personal transformation from Arandeep Das to Ivanka Das. Can you shed light on the challenges you faced along the way?
Ivanka: Oh, that journey was like peeling layers off an onion. Initially, it was a real struggle dealing with societal norms and biases tied to gender identity and sexual orientation. The pressure to fit into this stereotypical masculine image was intense. But hey, as I gained more confidence and exposure, I gradually shed the Arandeep persona to embrace Ivanka Das. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows; there were moments of self-doubt and fear of societal judgment. However, each hurdle, emotional as it was, led to a more authentic version of myself.
When did you realize your true identity? How did your relationships unfold during this period?
Ivanka: Certainly, it took some time for me to figure things out. During my time abroad, exposed to various perspectives, something just clicked. I realized that the label “gay” didn’t quite fit; instead, I felt more aligned with being a woman. It wasn’t an instant revelation, but more of a gradual understanding that unfolded, especially through my interactions with straight guys who appreciated my caring and understanding nature. Delhi played a pivotal role in this journey. I fell in love with a guy there and fully embraced the dual identity of being both male and female. However, it wasn’t a smooth ride; it brought about moments of depression and even led me to make drastic changes in my appearance, like shaving my head. Strangely, these challenging experiences paved the way for my entry into the modeling world. Life has its twists and turns, doesn’t it?
What sparked your shift from choreography to acting? Any standout moment in that transition?
Ivanka: You know, the whole journey from being a choreographer to diving into acting—it all began with this realization while I was deeply immersed in dance. I realized that to reach people effectively, acting was the key. An opportunity arose when I performed as a drag artist, which later transitioned into more performance-based roles. Social media, especially Instagram, played a role in getting recognized, and I received an offer for a negative role on Star Plus. This marked my shift to Mumbai and a new chapter in my career. It’s funny how life nudges you, and for me, the shift to acting just felt like the most natural progression.
You made it to the cover of Vogue India—no small feat. What was that experience like and its impact on the LGBTQIA+ community?
Ivanka: Vogue, right? Crazy experience! But let’s clear the air—I didn’t set out to be the LGBTQIA+ poster child. My focus has always been on my craft, on acting. Vogue happened to notice, and I appreciate the recognition, but I’m just an artist doing my thing. It’s not about representing a community. However, emotionally, seeing my work celebrated on the cover of Vogue was validation—a nod to my journey and everyone out there resonating with it.
What lessons did you pick up working with directors like Aar Baalki and actors like Nawazuddin Siddiqui?
Ivanka: Working with these legends has been a rollercoaster of learning. Their depth, their way of diving into characters—it’s like acting with soul. The lessons weren’t just about the technicalities; it was about digging deep emotionally. I’ve always opted for roles that challenge norms over commercial ones. The experience was emotionally enriching, reinforcing my belief in the power of genuine storytelling.
Ivanka, your journey has been quite remarkable, overcoming numerous challenges. Can you share some of the hardships you faced?
Ivanka: Absolutely. In my early days, I faced abuse from boys who misunderstood my femininity. I felt pressure from societal norms, faced abuse, and dealt with family problems. Even in school, bullying was a constant, but shame held me back from speaking up. Unfortunately, awareness about rape and sexuality was scarce back then. I didn’t even realize it was rape; it just felt like a bad touch. The trauma led to psychological issues. In a patriarchal society, boys were frustrated, and unwanted attention was hard to escape. The LGBTQI community faced similar struggles. I encountered attempts at manipulation, brainwashing, and force, making it a tough time.
How have these experiences influenced you? What message do you have for those facing similar challenges?
Ivanka: These experiences made me resilient and determined. Facing the worst, I emerged stronger. Speaking up about such issues is crucial, raising awareness about the impact on mental health. To anyone facing difficulties, don’t be silent. Speak up, seek support, and know that you’re not alone. Believe in who you are; there’s strength in being yourself. Your journey might have twists and turns, but it’s uniquely yours. Embrace it, learn from it, and most importantly, enjoy every moment. You never know where your life leads you.
Cyberbullying and mental health are topics you’ve been vocal about. How do you deal with it, and any message for those facing similar challenges?
Ivanka: Ah, cyberbullying—tough cookie, right? Over time, I’ve developed this thick skin. Filtering out the noise, focusing on my journey—it’s become my thing. Emotionally, it’s been challenging, but coping involves persistence and self-love. Mental health is crucial; seeking support from friends, family, or pros is key. Remember, you’re not alone, and others’ opinions don’t define your worth. It’s okay not to be okay, and reach out for help? That’s strength right there.
Breaking barriers in the entertainment biz—what’s next for Ivanka Das? Any dream roles or aspirations?
Ivanka: Looking ahead, I’m all about those unique, offbeat roles that kick societal norms to the curb. My aim is meaningful cinema that mirrors the human experience in all its beautiful messiness. Exploring roles that empower and break stereotypes, now that’s the dream. On an emotional level, it’s about connecting with the audience, and sharing stories that hit you right in the feels. Let’s just say I’m on the lookout for narratives that resonate with authenticity and depth.
As we wrap up this amazing journey with Ivanka Das, a big thank you to her for opening up and sharing her incredible story with us. It’s been quite a ride, full of ups, downs, and a whole lot of courage. Facing challenges head-on, Ivanka has shown us the strength that comes from embracing your true self. Her story is a reminder that it’s okay to be who you are, regardless of what the world might think. We’re excited to see where her path leads next in the world of cinema, breaking barriers and telling stories that resonate with authenticity.
So, here’s to Ivanka Das – a trailblazer, a storyteller, and a symbol of unwavering strength. Thank you for sharing your journey with SheSight!