2018 has been a significant year for the LGBTQ+ community, with some major ups and downs. Between the Supreme Court scrapping Section 377 and the Lok Sabha passing the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016, queer narratives came to the forefront of dialogue that gleefully celebrated queer love and fiercely advocated rights for the queer community. The year may be coming to a close, but it looks like we’re not done yet.
On December 27, the trailer for Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, starring Sonam Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, Juhi Chawla, and Rajkummar Rao, released and made ripples with its #LetLoveBe tagline. Set to release on February 1, 2019, just before Bombay Pride, this film is the first of its kind because it sensitively features queer love on the mainstream Bollywood stage with a script is written by Gazal Dhaliwal, a transwoman.
“Movies starring people outside the heteronormative reality we live in have always been made by the independent cinema scene in India, and in case it is made by the mainstream- it’s often marred with stereotypical images,” writes Pooja Nair for Gaysi Family. But the fact that this film is written by a queer Indian is a milestone in Bollywood “because we queers deserve a DDLJ of our own,” says Nair eloquently.
Dhaliwal, the screenwriter of the film, has an illustrious career writing dialogues for well-known movies like Wazir, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Farhan Akhtar, and Aditi Rao Hydari. She even wrote the screenplay for Lipstick Under My Burkha that sparked massive controversy in India for promoting “‘lady-oriented stories’ that contain ‘a bit sensitive touch about one section of society,’” according to the Central Board Of Film Certification (CBFC). Now, she’s back with another groundbreaking narrative on queer love that is backed by industry giants like Sonam Kapoor, who is known for supporting important stories like Neerja, Veere Di Wedding, and Padman.
This new film, Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, is special to Dhaliwal because of her journey with gender. On Satyameva Jayate, Dhaliwal talked candidly and bravely about her journey with gender, how she always aligned with femininity despite being born in a male body, and how she found the strength to transition. “When I was 5, I realised that other people didn’t see me the same way I saw myself... There was some confusion and disconnect between my body and soul,” she says on the show.
Now, as a voice for the LBGTQ+ community, Dhaliwal has crafted a beautiful romantic narrative focusing on the love life of a queer woman, Sweety, played by Sonam Kapoor, who harbours a closely guarded secret about her sexuality while she is being coaxed into marriage with a man by her family.
“I started writing this film 26 months back. So, you might say it was 2 years in the making. But I would say it was several decades in the making,” says Gazal on her Instagram page.
Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga will be out in theatres on February 1, 2019.
If you enjoyed reading this, we suggest you read: