A beautiful advert for traditional wedding jewellery is making waves in India as it stars a transgender model.
The ad from 96-year-old jewellery house Bhima follows the traditional narrative of a loving family gifting their daughter jewellery in the lead up to her wedding – except in this story, the woman is trans.
With 22-year-old trans actor Meera Singhania Rehani in the lead, the short video sees an awkward teenager with facial hair slowly transform into a beautiful, confident bride with the full support of her family. The final scene shows the advert’s title: “Pure as Love”.
Meera, a student of sociology at Delhi University and part-time model who came out to her family two years ago, said she was “very sceptical” when she first heard about the ad.
“I didn’t want someone to appropriate my trans identity for commercial use. I was also nervous since the film involved transition and as a pre-transition person I’m shown as a man with a beard.
“But when I read the story and researched about the director, I said yes. And I’m glad I did. Doing this has also helped me become more comfortable with myself,” she told the BBC.
Bhima said it created the advert to break all the stereotypes of a typical jewellery ad campaign, though it too was sceptical at first.
“All our previous ads had happy heterosexual brides. So we were worried about how people would perceive it and react to it,” said online marketing head Navya Rao, the brain behind the ad.
She told the BBC that her proposal for the campaign was met with “fears and apprehensions” from her colleagues.
“Most of our stores are in rural parts of the state. We were not sure how much exposure people there would have had to these issues,” she explained.
They needn’t have worried: “Pure as Love” has been viewed more than 900,000 times on YouTube and 1.4 million times on Instagram since its release in April, and has received rave reviews.
For Sayantan Choudhaury, creative head of ANIMAL, the agency that conceptualised Bhima’s campaign, it was exactly the reaction they’d been hoping for.
“It just happens to be about a trans person and their family. The ordinary expectations of this film are what make it stand apart,” he said, as reported by NewsMinute.
“We always wanted to tell a positive story, because we believe for normalising something, you have to first show that it’s normal – lead by example. So we showed a story where this child was accepted and supported by her family every step of the way.
“What more could we do for the community, is what we kept asking ourselves.”
Check out the ad below.