Sonam Kapoor's Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, with its mellifluous treatment of emotions, won hearts. But it was the film's purpose that won true accolades. Not many mainstream Bollywood films have really attempted to explore homosexuality in a humane manner, and the film is a sure winner there. One certain reason behind that is certainly the fact that it was written by Gazal Dhaliwal, a transwoman born as Gunraj, a man who underwent a sex reassignment surgery to attain the identity she always related to; that of a woman.
Such battles, however, are always uphill. In a recent conversation with Humans of Bombay, she recalled her time of coming out to the family, coping with her own sexuality, seeking help from a therapist, battling depression, settling for a career she didn't want to, and more. She also remembers she once ran away from home after stealing money but had to come back to her parents.
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“I came out to my dad when I was 13. I went to see a counselor, lied that I was with a friend & that same friend called home! When he asked me, I told him it was because I felt I wasn’t meant to be a boy. He said it was a phase & I continued to live with my truth. I tried to put my real self into a box & forget about it. But I reached a breaking point. At 16, I stole money & ran away. In the train, the reality of it all dawned on me. From Delhi, I called & consoled my crying mom. The next day, my dad came to take me back & he asked in a shaky voice, ‘What did we do wrong?’ I've never felt worse. I decided to make something of myself for my parents. I wanted to make films, but I had to ‘settle’, so I applied to engineering colleges. That’s where I heard the word ‘transsexual.’ It just fit–I found an identity. But I felt that changing my biological sex couldn’t be a reality. Frustrated, I fell into depression. I had 2 dreams–films & being a woman. Both seemed distant. It took me 2 years to go to film school. There, I made a documentary on transgenders & sex reassignment. When my dad saw it, he asked ‘when are you doing it?’ I still remember that. My treatment in Bombay was tough. I was harassed & once when my dad called I broke down. He ordered me to come home and continue my treatment, there I was afraid of what people would say & I'd never go out. I looked androgynous because of hormones. But my parents had told our neighbours to address me with my new name & identity. Over time I felt like that little box from my childhood had opened. I’m still coloured with mild depression. It's been a long journey–I spent years finding something to define me. And now that I have–I feel at home. Most of all, I’m so grateful to have a family that stands by me in ways I hadn't even imagined. My parents have been my pillars. My father says that he always wanted a girl and now that’s exactly who I am...daddy’s little girl.” – HoB with Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga bring to you unexpected & heartwarming stories of people who show that love is love & the world would be a better place if we #SetLoveFree. Find the trailer link in our bio.
"At 16, I stole money & ran away. In the train, the reality of it all dawned on me.
From Delhi, I called & consoled my crying mom. The next day, my dad came to take me back & he asked in a shaky voice, ‘What did we do wrong?’ I've never felt worse," she said. She also recalls how her family stood by her as rock-solid support during times when she gasped to deal with life.
Gazal always wanted to be into films. Hence, her career in engineering didn't really last long. But here she is, living the life and calling herself what she always wanted to!