My work should be my identity not my gender: Gazal Dhaliwal


Are these two decisions connected? I have been fortunate that something like Lipstick Under My Burkha came my way. Feature films have an arc with beginning, middle, and end. Once again, I was hopeful of opting for a sex change. I wrote A Monsoon Date in a month and we shot it in two-and-a-half days. I always thought if I ever find love, it would be an impossible love story. Of late, there is a sense of exhaustion when it comes to romcoms as you feel that you have seen it all. Scene from A Monsoon Date
What are the challenges of a short film vis-a-vis a feature? The worst was that the Karnataka government passed a law that Hindi movies won’t release at the same time and would show only three weeks later. There was constant bullying in school and ragging in college. It is like your own body is your prison. In hindsight, my life was so suffocating that watching Bollywood films was one way of believing that happy endings were possible. I had lived like that for 25 years. The love for cinema was passed on to me genetically. Lamhe (1991) was my favourite film. It is never easy. Are there biases in the Indian film industry too? Is it a conscious decision? What prompted you to quit your job and study filmmaking at Mumbai’s Xavier’s College? Almost nothing happens in the film yet so much happens with this one character as she is heading to a date she has been seeing for a month. Since I was good in math, I pursued engineering and joined Infosys. That is changing now. I have been lucky to work with progressive people. When you are writing a feature film, be mentally prepared to devote at least two years to it. I’m conscious of the kind of work I want to do. While there is an understanding, the products that we create don’t reflect that. When I came out to my father at the age of 14, he obviously didn’t understand everything but he told me that he was there for me. Both my parents have loved me immensely and been protective about me. I’m personally fond of monsoons. When it ended, my dad turned to me and said: “So, when are you doing it?”
Had you anticipated their support? That was the first movie I signed but the first one to be released was Wazir, for which I wrote additional dialogues. 0
Comment(s) I was posted in Mysore for two years, which was a dark period in my life; I didn’t have friends. Advertising

Being an IT engineer, how were you drawn to cinema? You have been telling certain kinds of stories. I thought I would have to do some convincing but the film did the trick. Cinema was a respite for me. Qarib Qarib Singlle is my favourite as I love romcoms. In the ’90s, career options were limited in smaller towns. Advertising

What was the trigger for the story of A Monsoon Date? I took the documentary home and showed it to my parents. It’s an unusual, almost impossible love story. I told myself that since my first dream will never come true, at least, I must not let go of the other. Sometimes the outside reflects what’s inside you. However, I could sense that the flavour in this was new. A transgender person’s existence is lonely. There is a storm building up outside as it is inside the lead character. There might be people who love you but they can never identify with what you are going through. My father is progressive while my mother is conscious of what people will say. We spoke to people from the hijra community, transsexuals, and surgeons. They assume the masses won’t accept these stories. Coming from Patiala, my exposure to Hindi cinema was limited. Yet, from the business point of view, the LGBTQ stories don’t fit in. Two years after you joined the course, you underwent a sex reassignment surgery in 2007. That’s when I thought of giving movies a shot. I have received appreciation and respect in the industry. My father had lots of video and audio cassettes. Short films too have a beginning, middle and end, but the scope is smaller. As part of our diploma, my group made a documentary on transgenders. The industry always had a lot of gay people in it. When I moved to Mumbai, I had two dreams — to undergo the sex-change procedure and work in movies. But, my work should be my identity not my gender. Popular Photos

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Did their support make it easy? During school and college days, I used to direct plays. Not immediately.