The official trailer of the much talked about Sonam-Anil Kapoor and Rajkummar Rao starrer, Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, is out! And it would be fair to say that it is breaking the internet.
Launched yesterday, it has already garnered over six million views!
But before you think this is all about the numbers, let us tell you what makes this upcoming film so relevant in today’s scenario!
A coming of age film, the story chronicles the life of Sweety (Sonam Kapoor). As a child, Sweety dreams of marrying the love of her life. Growing up, life turns out to be quite different for her. While her family finds three suitors for the noor (apple) of their eyes, there is one secret that stops her from accepting any of them. A secret that she thinks will break her family and turn her parents against her.
Rajkummar, who plays a playwright and director, narrates the story through a play that has the same title as the film. It shows two women being torn apart by a mob, dropping the hint that Sweety has, in fact, fallen in love with a girl. The trailer ends with the tagline–The most unexpected love story of the year #LetLoveBe.
Watch it here:
What makes the film even more special is the fact that it has been written by screenplay writer Gazal Dhaliwal, a transwoman herself!
This is a small attempt at bringing to light her inspiring story.
Known for contributing to screenplay and dialogue writing in acclaimed films like Wazir, Lipstick Under My Burkha and Agli Baar, Gazal originally started her career as a software engineer at Infosys after college. Within two years, she moved to Mumbai to pursue her dream of writing for Bollywood.
But Gazal was not always known as Gazal.
Until 25, she fought an internal battle against gender dysphoria. Recalling her journey on Satyameva Jayate, she says,
“I was born in the wrong body. I never felt like a boy. Even the smaller things I liked were feminine. My friends were girls, I loved playing dollhouse with them. When my mother wasn’t home, I would wear her dupatta. All of this started as young as five. I remember, once when my mother wasn’t home, and I was dressed in her clothes, my aunt saw it. Finding my behaviour extremely strange, she slapped me hard,” says Gazal.
Growing up, she found it difficult to share her struggle with anyone, including her parents. She was often bullied in school due to her feminine traits.
“They would call me slurs like chakka (eunuch). I knew I had to control my feminine traits because if I expressed them, people would make fun. For a very big part of my life, I had lived suppressing my identity. I felt confined and caged in my own body. The gender that my body had was nowhere close to the gender my soul identified with.”
She first spoke to her father about it at the age of 14. And while he didn’t understand how a young boy could feel like a girl from within, he did not brush her concerns away. He acknowledged it and told her it could be a phase that would eventually pass.
As school progressed and she saw young teens around her fall in love, Gazal never imagined she would ever find a partner. Atop that, the internal struggle of gender identity was pushing her down a spiral.
“I was depressed. I couldn’t cope with academics. Just a day before the exams, I stole some money from home and boarded a train to Delhi. I was terrified after the train crossed Patiala. There were some men who kept telling me to go with them. I got off, ran to a telephone booth an called my mother. She was crying on the other end. ‘Please come back Gunraj, we won’t say anything.’ I promised to return home. My father’s close friend in Delhi picked me up, and the next day, my father drove from Patiala to take me home.”
On their way back, with tears in his eyes, he said, “I have always tried to be your friend? Why didn’t you talk to me?”
Gazal answered, “It wasn’t a phase. I don’t think it will ever get over.”
From then, her parents were her pillars of support. She decided to complete her engineering, moved to Mysuru to work for Infosys and make something out of her life.
“I wanted to transition, but it was difficult at the time. So I decided to pursue my next big dream, to write for the Hindi film industry.”
She moved to Mumbai and studied filmmaking at St Xavier’s. It was during the course that she made a documentary on gender identity. This opened up a whole new world to her. She met several protagonists who faced the same struggle growing up and had successfully transitioned medically.
“It was at the time I realised, that transition was difficult, but not impossible.”
She took the film to Patiala and showed it to her family.
Moved by the film, the immediate question her parents asked her was, “When are you getting it done?”
Gazal shares, It was the biggest turning point of my life. There was no looking back ever since.”
Gazal drafted an email and sent it to all her closest family and friends, who not only acknowledged it but also saluted her courage for the journey ahead. There was acceptance, of the most beautiful kind.
Speaking about her first reaction after the nurse showed her body after the transition, Gazal says, “I did not yell in excitement. I was just calm. It was peace that I felt after a long time. I told myself, ‘This is how it was supposed to be. My soul and body are now aligned. Everything feels right for the first time’.”
Gazal’s parents went to every house in their locality and spoke to their neighbours about her transition, to ensure nobody treated her differently after she returned.
Now, each day is a gift for Gazal. Today, she is an activist, a motivational speaker and an inspiration to youngsters struggling with gender identity.
As she brings on screen an amazing film that smashed stereotypes, we wish her the very best for the road ahead.
You go, Gazal!
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)