Alina Khan is a Pakistani actress. Being a transwoman and a queer artist, she openly advocates for the need for LGBTQ+ inclusive films in the Pakistan film industry. Directed by Sadim Sadiq, Alina Khan’s upcoming film Joyland is Pakistan’s official entry to Oscar 2023. The movie was earlier banned by the information ministry on the grounds of “highly objectionable material.” However, the ban was lifted by the Pakistan government on November 16.
Joyland is the first-ever film from Pakistan which was screened at the Cannes International Film Festival. It has received numerous accolades, including the Jury Prize and the Queer Palm award at the Cannes Film Festival, where it had its world premiere.
Who is Alina Khan?
Alina Khan was born on 26 October 1998 into a Muslim family in Lahore, Pakistan. Not much is disclosed about the 24-years-old’s family. In an interview with Rolling Stones, Khan gave insights into her estranged relationship with her family, who disowned her owing to her identity as a transgender woman. When she came out as a trans-woman, her family said, “You are a khusra, you are trans.” “Even my sisters and brothers would say, ‘Send her to the khusra community, that’s what she is going to become anyway.’ she added.
As a result, she ran away from her family at the age of 13 or 14. “I was about 13 or 14 when I left home… I roamed the streets for four to five days. With the money that I had, I could eat just once a day… There was a senior in my trans community, Neeli Ranaji; she is from Lahore. We have a guru-disciple tradition in the Pakistani trans community, so I made her my guru and she introduced me to the trans community.” said Alina.
Alina could not pursue higher studies, owing to the widespread discrimination she faced in educational institutions. She dropped out of school at the young age of five.
Alina Khan’s career
Alina began her acting career when she was cast in Darling in 2019. Directed by Saim Sadiq, the movie revolved around the lives of Alina Darling, a transwoman who is an aspiring dancer and her friend Shain who has a crush on her. The film was nominated in the ‘Best Short Film’ category for the Melbourne International Film Festival and also won the Jury Award for ‘Best International Short Film’ at Melbourne Queer Film Festival (2021).
Joyland, directed by Saim Sadiq, is about a happily patriarchal joint family who longs for the birth of a baby boy to keep the familial line. Their youngest son, on the other hand, surreptitiously joins an erotic dance theatre and starts falling for an aspirational trans starlet. Their impossible love story gradually reveals Rana’s family’s desire for sexual rebellion.