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In the picture

Rani deserves all the accolades coming its way.

In the picture

 

Rani****

*ing: Kami Sid

Directed by Hammad Rizvi

Rani, a short film, written, co-produced (with Akbar Allana) and directed by Hammad Rizvi has been ruling the festival circuit.  Since releasing on the festival circuit – outside Pakistan – last year, the film has been screened at plenty of festivals including CAAMFEST in Los Angeles, Tasveer in Seattle, Asian CineVision International Festival, New York and Chicago South Asian Film Festival.

It has also been screened at Newport Beach Film Festival in California, Rhode Island International Film Festival and NBCUniversal Short Film Festival in LA – where it won the Outstanding Writer Award.

Rani has also been a part of a number of LGBTQ+ festivals such as Outfest LA (where it won Fox Inclusion Award) and International Queer Film Festival, Hamburg (winning Ursula genderbender Award, Best Short Film).

Just recently, it was announced that Rani headed to Goldsmiths University (London) where it was scheduled to be showcased alongside five other Asian LGBTQ+ shorts as part of LGBQT+ History month in February Goldsmiths, University, London.

You must wonder why one short film is making such a mark. But there’s a good reason for it. The film is exactly what it said it would be and what films should be.

IMG-7It opens in a deteriorating area in Karachi where transgender actress Kami Sid, the chief character in this story, is essaying a toy vendor and pushing a toy cart, selling toys to children around. It is innocuous and though she has no problem with the children, it is fairly obvious that the adults accompanying those children have no respect for her. She is an outcast, a person not to be spoken to as a mother tells her child.

The day turns to night and she is pushing her cart of toys back home. While coming across a woman very briefly who has abandoned her baby, she sees the child lying in a crib, alone, thinks for a moment and brings the innocent child home. The horror upon discovering that she has brought home a child, a girl to be exact, she is greeted with mortification of what people will think and Rani says, ‘I don’t care what people think’.

This is where the film really takes off. The reaction of those who live with her, the treatment meted out to transgender people – it is an indictment on this society and is both nuanced and very real – that deems it unacceptable for people like Rani to have the same dreams as everyone else. She begs her older sister that she can do it, raise the child, and the mood changes within the film.

She shops for the baby girl and again Rani is harangued by a shop-seller who comes close to interrogating her about why she is buying goods for a child.

As she sings to the child to go to sleep, the camera pans to a Karachi night where transgenders are begging, cars are passing by and homeless people are sleeping on the streets and life in the metropolis continues to go on. The clichéd perceptions of a transgender person, how we don’t treat them humanely – Rani covers it all but does it beautifully with a strong narrative, brilliant acting and equally strong background score.

What happens next, well, you’ll have to watch the short to find out.

To give away the entire short would be unfair but it’s an important film, reflecting on motherhood and the yearning of Rani that is probably shared by other transgender people too.

IMG-8Rani will have its public premiere in Pakistan at the ongoing Karachi Literature Festival 2019, later today. The KLF screening will be followed by a panel session which will include writer, director and co-producer Hammad Rizvi, Kami Sid, Akbar Allana, Bilquis Edhi (who has endorsed the film; subject to her health) with Zarrar Khuhro serving as moderator. It has been confirmed that the Lahore screening is being hosted by Lahore Biennale Foundation with the date to be confirmed.

 

Rating system:  *Not on your life  * ½ If you really must waste your time  ** Hardly worth the bother  ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only
*** Good enough for a look see  *** ½ Recommended viewing  **** Don’t miss it  **** ½ Almost perfect  ***** Perfection

Maheen Sabeeh

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