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Episode 11 Living Smile Vidya

On Gender Fluidity & Performance

Living Smile Vidya (a.k.a. Smiley) is an award-winning theatre performer, film actress, author, hospital clown, activist & Founder-Director of Panmai Theatre.


Smiley received the British Council’s Charles Wallace Award in 2013 for excellence in theatre. She has staged more than 100 shows of 25 plays with eminent theatre directors. Physical, clown, Commedia Del’ Arte/ Mask form of theatre are her passions and expertise in acting. She has starred in documentaries and films such as “Is It Too Much to Ask” (2017), “Pombala Pombalaya Irukkanum” (2017), “Ashvamithra” (2021), and “Die Anhörung” (2023). Worked in the capacity of Associate Director to  Mysskin in his Tamil film “Nandhalala” (2020) and worked in the capacity of Associate Director to Gopinath in his Malayalam film “Viratham.”


Smiley is the author of I am Vidya which is India’s first transgender autobiography. I am Vidya was originally written in Tamil and translated into English, Malayalam, Kannada, Marathi, and Assamese. A movie based on her autobiography, “Naanu Avanu Alla Avalu” (2015) in Kannada, won several state and national awards. The Kannada translation of her book  also won the Best Kannada Translation Award at the Sahitya Academy.


Well-known for her activism, Smiley has consistently fought for trans and Dalit rights. She was the first Indian transwoman to  have her chosen gender identity reflected in her passport.  


Smiley now lives in Switzerland, where she is staging her solo performance: “Introducing Living Smile Vidya” at various reputed theatres.

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