Run time: 127 mins
This potent and relevant drama follows a couple and a trans woman dancer navigating rigid social constraints.
The film’s story — of an unorthodox, extra-marital relationship between a married man and trans woman — caused a huge stir in its country of origin of Pakistan, where conservative religious values hold sway and LGBTQ+ rights remain woefully backwards.
At the core of the film is a love triangle, between Haider (Ali Junejo), the gentle son of an overbearing father; his smart, independent wife Mumtaz (Rasti Farooq, terrific) and Biba (Alina Khan), the feisty trans woman dancer who gives him a job. But the picture transcends the tragic romance narrative, to achieve something rather more complex and satisfying.
Of the three, Biba is perhaps the most comfortable with her own identity. But then Biba is also the most vulnerable to the hate that spews towards anyone who doesn’t fit the norm. Haider is smitten by Biba, but as much by what she represents as who she is. And Mumtaz, reluctantly pregnant and watching helplessly as her freedoms are stripped away, despairs of the future. This is a powerful debut from filmmaker Saim Sadiq.