Berning Down Stereotypes: Meet Bernie’s Diverse Supporters

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official views or political position of Brown Girl Magazine.

by Nishi Fatima

Since day one of the election, there’s been evidence that the mainstream media has portrayed the supporters of Democratic Presidential nominee Sen. Bernie Sanders as predominantly white, and overwhelmingly male. The accusations of a lack of diversity among his supporters reached comical levels this past weekend when the Senator won primaries in some of the most diverse states in the country by landslides, an accomplishment, which somehow was still “whitewashed” by mainstream media.

Since the Internet is never one to back down, backlash ensued over social media through a hashtag called #BernieMadeMeWhite. Of course, it didn’t take long for the tag to begin trending as a result, with some powerful, witty, and hilarious results.

In response to this hashtag and all the hoopla leading up to its creation, we wanted to take this one step further and actually speak to some desi, Hispanic and Arab, supporters of Berners about why they support their candidate, and what they think of media whitewashing of Sen. Sanders’ supporters.


City: Dallas, TX

Occupation: Student

Age: 23


1. Why do you support Bernie?

I have a third-degree Bern. I’ve yet to disagree with him on an issue. His stance with Muslims is impeccable compared to other candidates.  Bernie Sander’s campaign is so real. It’s supported by real support instead of shady companies. And now you have a cute bird involved, c’mon, America. I see Bernie as an honest man and politician (who knew the words honest and politician would be in the same sentence?) and that’s what I admire about him the most. He walked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He’s been fighting for equality while another candidate was calling a race, ‘predators.’ You’re all yearning for a Berning, just accept it.

2. How does it make you feel when you continuously see the media narrative that Bernie supporters are primarily white males?

I think it’s odd that media highlights the main source of support for Bernie as white males. I don’t know any white males supporting him. Actually, I don’t see any media on him. I have to go to Twitter or Facebook to get any decent Third Degree Bern coverage. I didn’t know who Bernie Sanders was until I saw a post about him on Tumblr. Isn’t that crazy? I think the real question is why isn’t the media showing Bernie at all? If he wins this, it’ll be amazing. This will truly show the world how powerful the Internet is.


City: Austin, TX

Occupation: Marketing

Age: 32


1. Why do you support Bernie?

Bernie’s economic policies are closely in line with views I have held since about 2003. The fairness aspect of the U.S. economy has greatly diminished over the last 40 years, and it’s been done in a way that now has many people voting against their own interests. It’s refreshing to see someone not only pushing for a shift on things like extreme inequality, higher wages, increased social safety net, etc. but also shifting the conversation within the Democratic Party. As there has been a gradual shift to the right since the 70s, the Democratic Party has, in my view, shifted along with it. His commitment to grass-roots fundraising is evidence of his commitment to restoring integrity to the democratic process, and I have a lot of respect for that.

2. How does it make you feel when you continuously see the media narrative that Bernie supporters are primarily white males?

Maybe I have a slightly different view of this. I see this more as an education thing than a race thing. My intuition tells me that Bernie’s message is much more cerebral than most candidates’, which doesn’t always translate well into a political bumper sticker. Education teaches me that his economic policies will greatly benefit the lower class (which traditionally has a higher minority population), but without that understanding, I can see how his message wouldn’t be as palatable. The irony, of course, is that this is exactly the type of thing Bernie wants to improve. The lower class has far fewer opportunities to improve their quality of life than their middle and especially upper-class counterparts, and much of that starts with improved education and more fair economic policies. Again, this is all intuition, and I have no data to back it up, but I wonder if many minority voters choose Hillary, not because they are making an educated decision based on policy understanding, but rather more on name recognition and reputation. I think Bernie’s camp would do well to translate the economic message into one that appeals to the hot-button topics the minority base cares about.


City: Back and forth between Baltimore, MD and Staten Island, NY

Occupation: Student studying Finance

Age: 24

neena1. Why do you support Bernie?

I support Bernie for a combination of reasons. I admire his character and principles, and I concur with his political stances. I think he is an honest and sincere man who cares about the American people, especially every day working Americans. Bernie advocates for what I believe as the two biggest issues of my generation: income inequality and climate change. I think America is a third world country living in a first world country – while some aspects and areas are fantastic, the general quality of life has deteriorated due to poor leadership and inefficient policies. I think Bernie campaign acknowledges those realities head-on.

Bernie has served in the Senate for many years so he is committed to representing American people. He became a viable presidential candidate despite not having a super PAC or having enormous funding. His voting track record has been commendable and consistent for many decades; for instance, he did not elect for the Iraq war, has been a long time supporter of civil and gay rights, etc. Importantly, he does not discriminate against minorities or other demographics.

It may be simplistic, but I’ve noticed that Bernie is the only candidate that actually gives direct answers to questions while not insulting people in the process. I assess political viability based on character, respect, consistency, transparency, and competence. I think Bernie has exemplified all these qualities and would make a fine president.

2. How does it make you feel when you continuously see the media narrative that Bernie supporters are primarily white males?

I think that media narrative is detrimental in the long run. Personally, I identify with Bernie and his views, and think his positions will positively benefit minorities, women, LGBTQ, etc – his stances are not limited to the improvement of white males. Importantly, his views are inclusive of and helpful toward people of color. By perpetuating that narrative, people who do not identify as ‘white male’ may be discouraged from learning about Bernie and supporting his campaign.

I think my reaction depends on the situation. If a state population is truly and largely composed of white people, it makes sense to predict Bernie’s success based on that demographic measure. But if a state population comprises diverse people, it’s ignorant to think that only the “whiteness” is the deciding factor. At the end of the day, I see a clear media bias against Bernie whether it’s framed as related to POC or not. He is doing well, has gone very far in the campaign, and advocates for real issues affecting millions of Americans while being respectful of people’s differences.

Nishi (that’s me!)

City: Denver. CO

Occupation: Audiologist

Age: 32

nishi1. Why do you support Bernie?

I’m actually a reformed Hillary Clinton follower. I was sadly one of those ‘we finally need a woman prez, ITS OUR TIME’ people who hadn’t actually researched anything about her politics (which isn’t of course to say all of her followers follow this stupid modus operandi). My views of course changed rapidly once I began to look into Bernie’s platform, message, and history. Now, I have fifth degree burn that no ointment can treat. I’ve never felt so passionate about a candidate and have never cared as much about elections before. This is because prior to Bernie, most politicians made me feel hopeless or indifferent. They put on a façade of inclusivity but then would go forth and do whatever worked best for the establishment. But Bernie’s honesty and integrity are unprecedented, something that I never thought would ever be found in a politician. He has been committed to issues of social justice, gender equality, income equality, and progressive change for many decades now, unlike a certain candidate whose only consistency has been flip-flopping based on her donations and focus groups.

2. How does it make you feel when you continuously see the media narrative that Bernie supporters are primarily white males?

It’s incredibly frustrating, but sadly it’s only one of my many grievances against the mainstream media during this election. Considering how favorable the mainstream media can be to HRC, it’s difficult not to feel as though this false narrative has been perpetuated in order to make people of color feel as though Bernie Sanders is not the right candidate for them. Yet again, we are reduced to a mere tool to further a narrative, in this case the narrative being that Bernie supporters are not diverse. It’s also an erasure of sorts; our voices and presence are literally being erased from the media. Thankful for social media and alternative news sources to help set the record straight!


City: St. Paul, MN

Occupation: DJ/Museum Curator

Age: 35


1. Why do you support Bernie?

I support Bernie because I am of the belief that he is the natural extension of the hope and change President Barack Obama wanted to bring and to make that change permanent in the ever changing demographics our society faces as a whole. While the Republican party remains largely hijacked by ideals that do not speak to the majority, whereas the Democratic party is playing to largely monarchy standards in order to avoid the inevitable, we need an extension of that promise that Obama brought to the White House eight years ago. Bernie is the only man in my view that can bring that to fruition.

2. How does it make you feel when you continuously see the media narrative that Bernie supporters are primarily white males?

Personally, I don’t care…it just shows that the message that Bernie has resonates with them, and it also echoes how out of touch the mainstream politicians and the media alike are focusing on just being machines to churn out this election to be a Trump versus Clinton affair.  It continues to display the media’s ignorance at large as to why people are resonating with Sanders message, rather than just play on the fears of society at large.


City: Brooklyn, NY

Occupation: Information Technology

Age: 37

nivia1. Why do you support Bernie?

I started supporting Bernie when I learned about his stance on our prison systems and his statements on the high percentage of black men in the prison system. This is an issue that I’ve never heard a presidential candidate mention before. Sanders speaks on many issues that no presidential candidate spoke about this election such as income inequality, unfair campaign funding, climate change, and the unjust occupation of Palestine. While other candidates spend their time lying to the public, offending marginalized groups and ignoring issues that are directly affecting Americans- we have Bernie who brings the true issues affecting us to light.

2. How does it make you feel when you continuously see the media narrative that Bernie supporters are primarily white males?

It’s disappointing since ‘white males’ is synonymous with ‘privileged.’ Bernie speaks for the marginalized and disenfranchised yet the media pushes the idea that his supporters are mostly white, leaving people who should be supporting him feel as if he is not a candidate for them. The media coverage on Bernie has been extremely disappointing. This is a once-a-century candidate, yet we have the media putting most of it’s focus on a demagogue who gains supporters by throwing insults. Every day we see these click-bait articles on Donald Trump and his latest scandal, yet the candidate who stands for fairness is left out in the shade.


City: Fayetteville, NC

Occupation: Student

Age: 28

tanvir1. Why do you support Bernie?

I support Bernie because he speaks to, and for, the issues that matter to me. He is in favor of (and voted in favor of) nearly any issue that I have a stance on, from net neutrality, to the Iraq War, to abortion. And he speaks against many of society’s ill’s while avoiding demagoguery. He has been trying to take on the oligarchical establishment for decades, and it seems like a fight that he has mostly waged alone, in political circles, at least. He is so incredibly principled, humble, and consistent. Millenials have not seen a presidential candidate like him in our lifetimes. He may even be the first ever. Millenial activists see themselves in him; the ultimate ally, for civil rights, for gender equality, for economic equality, and most of all, for treating everyone as a human. His stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, his dismissal by AIPAC, his support for Muslims in their time of need, when so many are calling for our deaths and deportation, and for so many other vulnerable populations.

3. How does it make you feel when you continuously see the media narrative that Bernie supporters are primarily white males?

This is a narrative I have mostly not seen, since I don’t watch a lot of CNN/NBC/ABC for my news. Most of my news comes from Twitter and Facebook posts, usually from friends, and usually from liberal friends. So this narrative is not one that I am very familiar with. And it is simply laughable. Bernie enjoys so much support from all manner of diverse minorities and oppressed groups, that it would take willful ignorance, and a will to side with the establishment, to ignore the reality of the demographics of his supporters.


City: Austin, TX

Occupation: Writer, Incoming Freshman at the University of Texas at Austin

Age: 17 (But! Will be 18 right in time to vote for this election.)

duriba1. Why do you support Bernie?

The concept of political jabs and accusations that come with every election are of no interest to me. The concept of humanity supporting one another to eradicate bloodshed, the wage gap, and poverty, however, is one I am willing to sacrifice anything for. Although I began as a supporter for Hillary, my views rapidly began to align with those of Senator Sanders, as he is basically the 6” Jewish, toothy and idealistic embodiment of *~EqUaLiTyyyyy~* in terms of educational opportunities, bringing our troops home, and taxes on Wall Street. Most imperatively, unlike Clinton, the fact that Sanders walks his talk (ex: although both speak on ending sexual assault prevention programs, Sanders actually co-sponsored a 2015 bill that implemented the expansion of victims’ rights on campuses) is another reason I’ve thrown out my aloe vera in order to wholeheartedly feel the Bern (zing!).

2. How does it make you feel when you continuously see the media narrative that Bernie supporters are primarily white males?

When I hear about the media narrative that Bernie supporters are primarily white males, I’m baffled.  However, I see this as Hillary’s stellar ability to sweep minorities, not Bernie’s lack of it. When pundits predict his success based on the ‘whiteness’ of the population, I feel outnumbered and underrepresented, especially as everything except a white man: rather, brown and a woman.


City: Woodmere, NY

Occupation: Student

Age: 25

elizabeth1. Why do you support Bernie?

I support Bernie Sanders because he is a consistent pillar for the people. He has supported gay rights since the early 80s, voted against the Wall Street bailout, refuses to accept money from super PACs, and continues to support the #FightFor15.

And that’s just a quick glossing.

It’s not uncommon for other women to throw me the side eye when they learn that I was Berned early in the campaign. As though, no matter what, I should be supporting Clinton on the mere basis of her prospects of becoming the first woman president. But for women of color, Clinton really isn’t the obvious feminist choice. Clinton’s feminism turns a blind eye to intersectionality and her foreign policy decisions as Secretary of State have both harmed innocent people of color throughout the world  (ie: Honduras) and perpetuated longstanding systems of oppression. These are systems of oppression that both Clinton and the Republicans want to preserve. These are systems that Senator Sanders has wanted to dismantle since his earliest days in Washington.

2. How does it make you feel when you continuously see the media narrative that Bernie supporters are primarily white males?

It is obviously a bit disconcerting to hear reporting that characterizes Sanders’ supporters as mainly white males. But this erasure of voices with respect to people of color is not a new narrative in our country’s campaign cycles. However, to predict Sanders’ success based on the white vote, political pundits everywhere are making a grave error. Our erasure won’t continue at the polls. That’s the thing about numbers–they can be so inconvenient.


City: Colombus, OH

Occupation: Student

Age: 19

1. Why do you support Bernie?

To preface, these are my own opinions and do not reflect views of those who I may work for. I support Bernie because he and I agree on just about every single issue. He’s authentic and gets to the point in his debates. He was there from the beginning to fight for civil rights and universal healthcare. I cannot think of anyone with more progressive values. When I think of Bernie, I think of honesty and inclusiveness. He speaks about issues people my age are worried about today, such as college education and healthcare, and I think he really does want to make this country better for the common people.

2. How does it make you feel when you continuously see the media narrative that Bernie supporters are primarily white males?

I truly haven’t really seen that media narrative in action. That may be because most of my friends are people of color.

Nishi Fatima is a blogger, traveler, Air BnB peruser, and illegal street rapper (well, mainly in her dreams) who day jobs as an Audiologist in the city of Denver, C.O. When she’s not tweeting on the current state of racism or deeply musing on the nuances of the desi diaspora via an awkward vlog, she’s probably enthralled by “Law & Order: SVU” on a treadmill somewhere. Her writing has appeared in The Austin-American Statesmen, the Associated Press, and the Dallas Morning News. Follow her thoughts and misadventures at her blog.

By Brown Girl Magazine

Brown Girl Magazine was created by and for South Asian womxn who believe in the power of storytelling as a … Read more ›

‘Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani’: A Perfect K Jo Showcase Celebrating the Filmmaker’s 25 Years in Cinema

Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani

It’s always a flamboyant affair of colour, emotions and grandeur when Karan Johar directs a film, and his latest blockbuster “Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani” is as K Jo as it gets. After recently being recognised at the British House of Parliament for 25 years as a filmmaker, Johar is back to doing what he does best — bringing together families and star-crossed lovers, but this time with a modern touch. He makes a decent attempt at showcasing progressive ideals and feminist issues while taking us on this family-friendly ride.

“Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani” is a larger-than-life film revolving around the love story of a boisterous Rocky (Ranveer Singh) from a wealthy Delhi family, and Rani (Alia Bhatt), a sharp journalist from a progressive Bengali household. And of course, despite belonging to completely different backgrounds and lives, our protagonists, in true Bollywood fashion, fall hopelessly in love through a string of slow-motion gazes, warm embraces and some truly breath-taking song sequences in Kashmir’s snowy mountains. They are then forced to face their opposing families which brings along the family drama in the second half of the film.

The plot is not the film’s strongest point — there’s no real surprise about what’s going to happen next, and yet the film doesn’t fail to keep audiences engaged and pack an emotional punch. This is down to its strong acting, witty dialogues and K Jo’s classic, beautiful cinematography.

K Jo

Ranveer Singh sinks into the skin of his character with ease – not only does he make the hall burst into laughter with the help of perfectly-timed gags but he pulls off those dreamy gazes ,expected in K Jo’s heroes, to evoke that typical, fuzzy-feeling kind of Bollywood romance. Alia Bhatt’s intelligent and undefeated character is no less a pleasure to watch on screen — not only does she look breath-taking in every shot but her feminist dialogues earn claps and cheers from the audience as she brings a progressive touch to this family drama.

[Read Related: ‘The Romantics’: Revisiting the Legacy and Grandeur of Yash Chopra With Filmmaker Smriti Mundhra]

Albeit, while Bhatt’s dialogues do their best to steer this film to the reformist drama it hopes to be, some of Singh’s gags and monologues on cancel culture bring out bumps in the road. The film could have done better to reinforce its points on feminism and racism without using the groups it tries to support as the butt of jokes.

There is also a case to be made about how long these Punjabi and Bengali stereotypes can go on with often gawkish displays of Ranveer’s ‘dilwala-from-Delhi’ character among the overly-polished English from Rani’s Bengali family. But it is with the expertise of the supporting cast, that the film is able to get away with it. Jaya Bachchan in particular is as classy as ever on screen; the stern Dadi Ji holds her ground between the two lovers, while Dada Ji Dharmendra,  and Thakuma Shabana Azmi, tug at our heartstrings showing that love truly is for all ages.

K Jo Rocky aur Rani

Saving the best to last, it is the film’s cinematography that makes the strongest case for audiences to flock to the cinema. The soul-stirring songs steal the show with their extravagant sets and powerful dance performances that treat the audiences to the much-awaited cinematic experience of a K Jo film. While audiences may already be familiar with the viral songs, “What Jhumka?” and “Tum Kya Mile“, it was the family-defying fight for love in “Dhindhora Baje Re” that really gave me goosebumps.

Overall, the film does exactly what it says on the tin and is a family entertainer with something for everyone. It will make you laugh, cry, and cringe at times, but nothing leaves you feeling as romantic as some old school Bollywood with a mix of new school humour, in true K Jo form.

Stills Courtesy of Media Global House



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By Anushka Suharu

Anushka Suharu is a British Indian journalist, with a Masters in Interactive Journalism (City, University of London) and a BA … Read more ›

Meet Fashion Blogger and Media Star Dolly Singh

Dolly Singh
Dolly Singh

Dolly Singh is a content creator who is from South Delhi. She earned a bachelor’s in political science from Delhi University. Singh then attended The National Institute of Fashion and Technology. She even had her own blog called “Spill the Sass.” Fashion is a true passion for Singh as she made her outfit of the day debut on Netflix’s Bhaag Beanie Bhaagon. She has even appeared on Modern Love Mumbai Edition! Singh was awarded Cosmopolitan Blogger Award in 2021 and IWM Social Media Star in 2022. Continue to learn more about Dolly Singh’s journey!

[Read Related: Fashion Influencer Ritvi Shah on how to Nail Content Creation]


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A post shared by Komal Pandey (@komalpandeyofficial)

What parts of your childhood pushed you into the world of content creation?

I have always been an introverted-extrovert kind of person. During my early teens I wouldn’t speak much at home but in school I was quite the talkative showgirl. When I look back it seems so paradoxical, almost as if I suffer from a split personality. Somehow my earliest childhood memories are of my loving to be on stage. I remember when I was in the 12th grade, I cajoled my teacher to include me in a singing competition since I had never ever sung live on stage and I was persistent in my effort for over 4-5 years and eventually she gave up and she said ‘okay its your last year why don’t you go do it ‘and of course in the process I realized what a bad singer I was. But just the sheer joy of being on stage, performing to a live audience and entertaining people is what stirred me at a deeper level. I think on the other hand my reserved side allows me to study people and their nuances and store all those observations in my memory data bank which helps me create great content. I wouldn’t speak much at home, but you know when I did, it was just 2 punch lines and everybody would either laugh or get awkward. I think I always knew that I was born to entertain, and it was my destiny’s calling. I would always get jealous seeing child actors on newspapers and television and I was like ‘oh my God, I am a child, and I could be an actor, living my dream life but I’m still stuck here’.

Do you feel what you do can inspire and impact the world? Please elaborate.

Of course, I think anybody with a decent following on social media has the potential to positively impact the community. Content creators enjoy a certain reach and it’s so important to handle that responsibility meticulously and the kind of message that you’re putting out needs to be respectful of certain socially expected parameters and mindful of the basic laws of the universe. It’s better to say nothing, then to say something stupid something that is going to just bring out the worst in people or send out misleading signals. I feel like the amount of content that audiences are consuming these days can trigger positive change if it’s done in the right manner. I feel strongly about a lot of topics, and I make sure that my platform is a reflection of that in some way. With content creators as opposed to film stars and celebrities, there is a direct engagement with audiences and a more one-on-one connection and hence content creators stand at a more leveraged position to influence audiences positively. I love body positivity as a topic.

Who were your fashion icons growing up?

Any fashion events that you envisage yourself at in the future to represent the brown renaissance? I think a lot of my inspiration came from the indie pop movement of the 1900s and the 2000’s. I started watching Hollywood movies and a lot of my inspiration started coming from the Bollywood Hollywood section in glossies and I made cutouts of the media, the models, the people. Then came Disney Channel and FTV and I used to watch those when my mom was away at work. I would love to represent India at the Paris, New York and London runways and walk for Indian designers who are using sustainable fabrics and indigenous designs and helping skilled artisans make a living in India. I love Madhu Sapre, Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, Cindy Crawford.

As you started a style blog in college, what were some of your favorite pieces of clothing in your early years?

Yeah, it was called Spill The Sass. I love blogging on T-shirts because there are so many ways that you could style a basic white T-shirt. Another blog I enjoyed back in the day was 5 ways to style maxi skirts. If I had to choose two pieces of clothing it would be a T-shirt and jeans!

How has your style evolved over the years?

It’s evolved from minimalistic and pocket friendly to being experimental and qualitative. The more I visited fashion weeks and events, the greater I experimented with outfit ideas that I curated personally. Over the years, I’ve started leaning more towards keeping it classy, chic and comfortable.

Tell us about your favorite online character since you make a bunch of them?

My favorite online character of mine would be Raju Ki Mummy because it’s based on my own mother.

If you could collaborate with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?

I would love to collaborate with Jenna Marbles. I love her to death. I discovered her few years ago and I would love to meet her in person. I mean she’s just a person who if I meet, I will just start sobbing like a child.

[Read Related: Malvika Sitlani on Content Creation, Entrepreneurship and Womanhood]


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Have you faced adversity in your field? How have you risen from it?

Adversities are just an everyday fact of life but I like to believe my dreams and goals are bigger than my fears and setbacks. I know at the end of the day I want to be something; I want to give back and quitting isn’t the solution. Every time I face a creative block, I just tell myself this ‘get up and get to work, there are many who look up to you, you can’t disappoint them’. Also, the support from family, friends is nothing less than therapeutic especially when you’re having that typical bad day. I run towards therapy when I hit rock bottom, which happens quite often. We often feel burnt out, exhausted, tired, and just sad. I’ve been taking therapy for the last two years. It’s been beneficial. I’m not saying all my problems have vanished; that’s not how it works. It’s a continuous journey and a continuous process, but I think therapy is my mantra.

You recently turned into an entrepreneur with your own line of candles. Tell us more on what drove this decision and are there any other lifestyle products you will be launching?

As a creator I think it’s just natural to want to extend your brand trajectory to newer realms and not be stagnant in your growth path. It’s hard to gauge the shelf life of any creator considering there is stiff competition and there will be a sense of redundancy that seeps into the algorithm at some point. It’s always beneficial to expand your forte and explore multiple revenue streams is what I’ve gathered from so many interactions I’ve had with my industry peers over the past few years. There were many opportunities where people wanted to create merchandise of mine or partner on a fashion and accessory line but I wasn’t very mentally ready given my hectic schedules. I was a customer of Rad Living and after the pandemic I went into this zone of binge buying so much self-care stuff and you know candles was one of them. So when this came about I think I was ready to experiment and expand and was looking for an avenue to invest my energies on something enjoyable. I had already made a content piece on candles before this offer came my way so I had a list of quirky candle names, taglines for fragrances, matching the fragrance notes with the names. I think with this inning the whole ‘Creator’ part to me really came to use here as well and that’s what was exciting about this and it was funny because it was such ‘a life comes to a full circle’ moment for me. My mom was into candle making because Nainital at that point was known for its candles and she used to make such variety of candles, 100s of types of candles and all my life I mean the first 16-17 years of my life I’ve just seen my mom make candles at home and our house were full of wax and everything was just candles. My father used to sell candles and it was my family business. Let’s just say that I’m taking forward the family legacy and I’m very excited to go home and to my father’s shop in Nainital and put my candles there and sell them!

Will there be any lifestyle products you’ll be launching?

I was so nervous about this candle launch as I never wanted to mislead my audiences and have them indulge in something that’s mediocre. I really invested my heart and soul in this venture, and thankfully the response has been beyond phenomenal. Courtesy all the good word of mouth publicity, I’m thinking of maybe launching my own beauty and fashion line in about 2 years!

What have been your favorite content pieces that have you worked on this far?

I love most of my content pieces as I’m very particular about each one of them so it’s hard to pick a favorite. One of them is a mini film called Aunty Prem Hai and it’s about an orthodox lady finding out that her nephew is queer from his ex-boyfriend, and this is a first time reveal since the nephew has never come out of the closet. There’s also this series called How Aunties Talk About Sex, and I’ve given a twist to how old-timer desi Indians broach the topic of sex based on how I’ve seen my mother interact with her friends, post dinner conversations amongst relatives, and how it’s more like a taboo.

What are your favorite social media trends?

Anything that emits positivity and gratitude. It’s important that social media trends invoke a sense of intellectual enhancement. Anything that kind of teaches you something that enriches your existence or makes you want to live life more wholesomely. I also enjoy throwback trends, something to do with special memories and nostalgia, because I feel old school is always timeless.

Do you feel people are so trapped in social media that they forget about the world around them outside of their laptops, phones, and tablets?

Yes. Personally it’s been a task for me to get detached from technology and balance the real and the reel. In the last couple of years, I have consciously cut down on my screen time, even though it’s all work and no play for me. Social media is so omnipresent and it’s sometimes scary to see this crazy social media obsession where people forget there’s a real world out there with real people and you need to forge real connections that are deeply rooted in authentic exchanges. It’s scarier to see how social media trends have now become rules to live by for a more meaningful existence for many when on the contrary that shouldn’t be the case.

[Read Related: Filmi Nights: A Love Letter to Vintage Bollywood]

How do you feel about the term content creator?

It’s a word that invokes a sense of pride in me because for me it’s all about being innovative, authentic and self-made. Influencer on the other hand is something that doesn’t resonate with me because there’s no real job description. I’ve always maintained my stand of not being an influencer as I create content and make a living out of being creative and curating an audience for myself over the years.

As you’ve worked with Priyanka Chopra, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Aayushmann Khurrana, and others do you hope to be more involved in Bollywood? Tell us about your acting projects.

Of course, I would love to be more involved in the film industry not just in India but globally too. I think there is so much scope for the South Asian community to make a mark in world cinema and it’s time we pick up more Oscars and Grammy’s in the coming times. Anyone who is a creator is also a film star at heart. 90% of creators who make sketches and skits are facing the camera 24×7, making original content, improvising on scripts and all of that stems from that innate ability to be great performers who can keep an audience engaged. I would love to someday have my own podcast where I interview film personalities and get into their skin. I love the dance and song sequences in Bollywood films, and I think I’d be great doing that as well! I’d love to see how I can get out of my comfort zone and do something that doesn’t directly relate to my online alias in the future. I got a lot of offers during the lockdown and shot for a film in 2022 which sees me in a leading role and I’m excited for it to launch later this year. I’m working on some writing projects as I would love to script a documentary or a short film.

Lastly, what do you hope to take away from this interview with Brown Girl Magazine?

I think the questions have been great. The questions have been answered in a way that I feel so confident about myself right now, and I feel so proud about myself and that says a lot. I would like to thank Brown Girl Magazine for taking time out to interview me. I hope this inspires the brown community across the world!

Photo Courtesy of Dolly Singh

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By Brown Girl Magazine

Born out of the lack of minority representation in mainstream media, Brown Girl Magazine was created by and for South … Read more ›

Joyland: A Film Rising Above Unacceptability With a Story of Acceptance


Haider wades his way through Karachi’s expansive beach, climbing and tumbling over rocks, in Mumtaz’s memory. The vast landscape is perfectly encapsulated in the 4:3 aspect ratio — an unconventional yet welcoming choice. He vanishes into the sea, leaving his storyline open-ended. The screen fades to black. The film comes to a close. The gentle humming and lapping of the waves disappear. However, I stay put. Stumped, and unable to comprehend the masterpiece that Saim Sadiq, director of “Joyland”, has blessed Pakistanis with.

[Read Related: Pakistan Had its First-Ever Trans Pride Parade in Lahore]

The winner of the jury prize at the Cannes film festival, as well as Pakistan’s entry for the Academy Awards 2023, “Joyland” has been marred with controversies (and subsequent bans) from the onset of its win. Ironic, since the film’s core message promotes tolerance and acceptance. Tolerance for unconventional norms, sexual/gender identities, and human emotions and desires.

“It’s so important to narrate these stories in today’s world, where we’re often divided and seldom united,” says producer Apoorva Charan during an exclusive chat with Brown Girl Magazine.

It’s her feature film debut as a producer, and she’s justifiably beaming with pride.

Joyland is such a win for South Asia, but particularly, Pakistani storytelling. Every person I met, I felt like there was some characteristic or quirk about them that mirrored our characters in the film.

Set in the depths of androon Lahore, “Joyland” primarily revolves around Haider (Ali Junejo) — a meek, unemployed house husband in a borderline, passionless marriage. He’s happily helping Saleem bhai (Sohail Sameer) and Nucci bhabi (Sarwat Gilani) raise three kids, while the fourth one breaks Nucci’s water in the opening scene. Another girl is born, despite the ultrasound’s previous declaration of a baby boy. 

“If I were to receive an award based on my character in “Joyland”, it’d definitely be for “best at single-handedly increasing the population of Pakistan,” says Gillani, as we howl with laughter during our spoiler-riddled chat with the cast of the film. “I think that, combined with the ‘coolest bhabi’ — those two will have my name on them.”

But Nucci’s wasn’t just a bhabi who pumped out a new baby every year. Sarwat’s character was given some level of agency — a woman who reminisced about a career in interior design before marriage and kids while smoking a cigarette in secrecy.

I think my philanthropic work plays a part in how I started saying no to bechari roles. How can I be a role model to these women I’m trying to help, while playing the same characters? The change came about with “Churails” and I vehemently stuck to it. My characters need to have a voice; a backbone.

On the other hand, Haider’s wife, Mumtaz (Rasti Farooq), works as a beautician at the local salon, busy dolling up brides in Lahore’s unpredictable load-shedding.

Both Haider and Mumtaz seem to have a relatively stable marriage based equally on societal expectations and gender-flipped roles. While Haider stays home, helps in the kitchen, and attempts at searching for a traditional job, Mumtaz carves autonomy and independence for herself. This is in spite of an oppressive family life characterised and dictated by Haider’s overly conservative, traditionalist father and patriarch, Rana (Salmaan Peerzada), who wishes for the couple to procreate a cricket team of just boys. 

But Rana, known as Abba Jee, is also layered with his own 50 shades of grey, struggling with loneliness and a lack of intimacy, mirrored in his relationship with next-door neighbour Fayyaz (Sania Saeed). His emotional desires are symbolised by his physical impediments — the former handicapped with “what will people say”, and the latter with a wheelchair. The rules that he has for his children are the same that his children have for him, bound by tradition, norms, and society. They are not allowed to stray from what is considered “normal”.

The film’s women are strong which is pretty much a reflection of the women in Sadiq’s life. While Abba Jee shuns the love and companionship that Fayyaz offers, she stands her ground until firmly asked to leave. The complexity of each person’s emotions versus expectations is what makes “Joyland” relatable on a human level.

Rasti Farooq channels Mumtaz’s apprehensions and predicament with the utmost believability.

Alternatively, Mumtaz’s relationship with Haider is based on convenience and habit, where two people share the same bed but sleep facing away (partially because one of Saleem and Nucci’s young daughters crashes with them every night, illustrating the confined space both Haider and Mumtaz are allowed to be themselves in). The dynamics of their marriage drastically evolve once Haider’s eye catches Biba (Alina Khan), covered in blood as she walks numbingly into the hospital where Nucci gave birth. The introductory scene mirrored the brutal reality of violence inflicted upon Pakistan’s trans community; one of “Joyland’s” most haunting moments. 

Mumtaz is asked to quit her job once Haider lands a gig as a “theatre manager” — a cover-up for his job as a background dancer at the nightclub Biba coincidentally performs at. The film portrays the traditional Pakistani marital social dynamic; men must work, and women must housekeep. Even when some level of independence is allowed to a married woman, she must forego her right to a career later in life. Understandably, it leaves Mumtaz devastated.

“It’s so strange how that’s just an acceptable act in our society,” Farooq chimes in, voicing Mumtaz’s thoughts. “Even if a woman is good at a 100 things, ultimately, she’s expected to quit her job to be a homemaker because that’s ‘her job’.”

With time, Haider falls into a routine and rhythm of working at the theatre and spending more time with Biba, allowing him an insight into the widespread transphobia she’s regularly faced with. Biba confides her innermost desire to be what she termed as “a complete woman” in order to land the same dancing opportunities as her counterparts.


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Haider’s daring closeness to Biba leaves Mumtaz — who at this point is reliant on him as a best friend more than the physical intimacy he fitfully provides her — alone, isolated, and depressed. For Haider, it is liberating to leave problems at home and escape into a secret world centred around his deepest desires. He doesn’t want to be a bad person. He doesn’t wish to hurt or leave his wife. But his happiness now seemingly lies in dancing and exchanging stolen kisses with Biba. Farooq agrees:

I think Mumtaz and Haider were best friends at this point. They had an unspoken love for each other, which stemmed from the sanctity of their relationship. They might not be in love but they did love each other. In the eyes of our society and otherwise, they were married, but they’d drifted so far apart. There was love but it wasn’t possible to return from how distant they were.

This point of no return brings Haider to a crossroads — one where he is torn between his loyalty to Mumtaz and his love for Biba. Ultimately and ironically, in a particularly passionate moment, it is his curiosity pertaining to Biba’s sexuality that drives her to throw him out of her life. Defeated and guilt-ridden, he comes face-to-face with a pregnant and non-confrontational Mumtaz, who, by now, is aware of what Haider has been up to but doesn’t have the mental capacity to verbally digest his infidelity alongside a child she doesn’t want.

Her apprehensions about bearing and raising children are indicated throughout the early days of her pregnancy. The clutching of her stomach, the tightening of the rollercoaster belt during a visit to Joyland park, and her unease during the ultrasound are just a few examples of Mumtaz’s angst. 

Abba Jee’s 70th birthday was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Mumtaz, surrounded by family and friends and feeling emptier than ever, takes her own life. A tragic full circle where one life ends as the other begins. Her suicide is harbingered by Rana’s birthday speech as he recalls a palmist once saying his bloodline would end with Haider. 

[Read Related: #JusticeforJulie: Pakistan’s Failure to Protect its Vulnerable Trans Population]

“Joyland” is replete with polarity. There is a seamless hand-in-hand flow of happiness and devastation, longing and antipathy, birth and death. Pakistani society’s struggles with misogynistic gender roles are depicted in the most gentle, sensitive, and nuanced ways. The struggle is also ironic, considering Pakistan has one of the most progressive transgender legislations in the world. Trans people have the right to self-identify their ­gender in Pakistan – a right still denied to the trans community in many progressive countries, such as the UK.

A deeply reflective film with memorable and emotional characters doing justice to their performances. It’s currently running in cinemas here in the UK, and we highly recommend watching this poignant piece of art.

Photos Courtesy: Studio Soho/Khoosat Films

By Queenie Shaikh

Desk bound by day and travel bound all other times – Queenie thrives on her weekly dose of biryani and … Read more ›