IMGC Global will release the film Friday in Pakistan. B4U Motion Pictures will release it in the United Arab Emirates, U.K., U.S., Canada, Germany, Spain, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
Meenu Gaur and Farjad Nabi’s Urdu-language romantic comedy is produced by Dawn Films. The film also headlines Pakistani superstar Mahira Khan, Sheheryar Munawar and Javed Sheikh.
Ali, a skilled dancer and a highly visible face of the Pakistani transgender community, featured in a music video for Pakistani band Soch in 2017.
“The first thing I wanted to be sure of when the role was offered to me was whether it makes a mockery of our community, which happens often in Bollywood and Lollywood films,” said Ali. “So I was thrilled at how wonderfully, sensitively and rather matter-of-factly the story places a transgender character. Meenu and Farjad made sure not to victimize the character either, which is another trap that films often fall into.”
“The message in the film is that it makes no difference if you are a man or a woman, both, or whichever you prefer,” Gaur said. “And the fact this film is being released in the same year that Pakistan passed the landmark Transgender Persons Act, which gives the right to every person to self-identify, makes having Rimal in our film extra special.”
After years of being marginalized and discriminated against, the transgender community is slowly entering the mainstream media narrative in Pakistan. This year, Marvia Malik became the first transgender television news anchor; transgender activist Zara Changezi is starring in short film “Denial”; “Shanakht,” a feature starring several transgender actors, is due in the coming months; and Gaur and Nabi’s next film, “Barzakh: Between Heaven and Hell,” revolves around a transgender protagonist.
However, parts of the Pakistani establishment remain conservative. The censor board recently banned Bollywood film “Veere Di Wedding,” starring Kareena Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor, for “vulgar dialog and sexual scenes.” In India, the film caused a social media uproar for a masturbation scene performed by actress Swara Bhaskar. The film benefited from the publicity and has grossed some $18 million worldwide.