By Sonya Rehman
It’s a fun and catchy little ditty, but on closer inspection, Madam, the latest single by Pakistani musician, Jimmy Khan, shines the spotlight on a rather grim issue: local society’s apathetic attitude towards its transgender community.
But it was only after the song was recorded that Khan started considering highlighting the lives of transgenders through his music video.
“The value attached in reflecting something real in society seems to add meaning and some sense of purpose to an artist’s life and work,” Khan answers when questioned about the importance of highlighting societal issues via music. “I think it’s important to reflect on everything that surrounds you.”
But this isn’t the first time that local art and culture has featured the strife and struggles of transgenders in Pakistan. From documentaries, TV serials and theatre productions, the social stigmatization of the transgender community has been exposed and covered on a regular basis.
Last year, for example, a fashion campaign featuring the well-known transgender activist, Kami Sid, spread like wildfire across local media, garnering both positive feedback as well as negative reactions.
And this year, the Pakistani band, Soch, released a song, Dhola, whose music video went down as the first to feature a transgender model, Rimal Ali, who played the role of a transgender prostitute in the production.
Through Madam, Khan states that he’d like to remind society of “the harsh reality” of Pakistan’s transgender community and to perhaps help “change the way [the general public] views transgenders.”
“It was a rather dark and surreal experience shooting this video,” Khan reveals, “Especially the last bachelor party [scene]. We were shooting in real locations and got the exact same reaction of people on the streets as projected in Madam. The message is truly a reflection of our attitude and behavior towards the transgender community.”