Indian-American director Namrata Singh Gujral’s upcoming movie “5 Weddings,” starring Rajkummar Rao and Nargis Fakhri, is a unique romantic-comedy. It delves into the struggles of the transgender community in India.
Gujral had originally created a light and fun love story. However, while working on a documentary regarding cancer patients at Mumbai’s Tata Memorial Hospital, Gujral met a transgender woman supporting a breast cancer patient. Their encounter led to a conversation about what each of them was doing at the hospital and the woman wondered who would watch a film about cancer patients and no stars.
Gujral replied “Sometimes we have to tell stories that nobody would,” to which the woman revealed how she wishes someone would tell the story of people like her.
In a conversation with the Indo-American News Service (IANS) at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne, Gujral revealed how this was the moment that opened her eyes and led her to change the plot of “5 Weddings” even though the film was set.
She thought it kismet that her film is about attending 5 weddings and hijras (transgender women) are often thought of as good luck when they show up at weddings to sing and dance in the Indian culture. She wanted to remove the fluff and add some real weight to the film by including a subplot revolving around the difficult place of transgenders in Indian society.
Unfortunately, she faced some resistance once she added the new twist to her story, as investors didn’t want to risk the funds behind a such a controversial and sensitive topic. Gujral persisted with her story and stayed true to her cause by casting real transgender women for the roles.
Gujral said she also looked for the transgender woman who originally inspired her at the hospital but sadly Gujral never found her.
In the film, Fakhri plays an All-American girl with little knowledge of her South Asian background and Rao plays a proud Indian close to his culture. Fakhri is a journalist who, in order to secure a promotion, flies to India to cover 5 weddings to get an in-depth look at the elaborate celebration. Rao is a police officer who is Fakhri’s government designated liaison officer.
While taking in the grandiosity of Indian weddings, she encounters hijras and becomes curious about their role in the culture. Fakhri’s character begins befriending and investigating the truth behind the real lives of hijras, but Rao’s character tries to stop her. Between the culture clashes, they still find love but you’ll have to see the film to know how the story ends.
“5 Weddings” releases on September 21, 2018.