‘Pakistan is not conservative’ – Ali Saleem (Begum Nawazish)

MUMBAI: Cross-dressing talk-show host Ali Saleem aka Begum Nawazish Ali, who was hastened out of Mumbai to avoid a Shiv Sena backlash soon after being evicted from the “Bigg Boss” house, says he would love to revisit India for more opportunities.

“I saw no logic behind this kind of a protest. I didn’t choose to be born in Pakistan. It’s something that just happened to me. If I was born in Mumbai, I’d have been an Indian. Sixty-three years ago we were one nation. Why do we waste so much time in negativity?” said Ali Saleem aka Begum before leaving for Pakistan.

Ali Saleem says he doesn’t see any logic behind the Shiv Sena’s protest against Pakistani personalities on “Bigg Boss”. PHOTO: FILE

What are your plans?
As soon as I left “Bigg Boss”, I went to a friend’s house in Mumbai. In the morning, I returned to my hotel in an auto-rickshaw. I’m leaving Mumbai.

You should have stayed…
I don’t think the channel (Colors TV) wants me to, not after the Shiv Sena’s protests. I’m going back home, I’m missing my mom. I’ve been completely cut off inside “Bigg Boss”. When I came out of the house, they didn’t allow me to talk to my family until very late at night. I got a mobile phone at 1 am. At that time I woke up my mom and dad. Both my parents had been watching me on “Bigg Boss” and were proud of me.

Do you plan to return to India?
I’d love to. I don’t like to mince my words. At the moment Pakistan is plagued with problems and entertainment is not a priority there. I am an entertainer and India can provide me with lots of work. When I come to India, I don’t come as a Pakistani. I come here as an actor. If I get work, of course I’ll return.

Was there solidarity between you and Veena Malik in the “Bigg Boss” house?
Veena and I are from Pakistan and we’re both from television but we’ve met only two, three times. Obviously when you’re abroad, meeting someone from home means a lot. I like Veena a lot as a person. She’s frank and she says what she has to in front of you. She isn’t two-faced.

You’ve a strong feminine side to your personality. Why did you choose to focus on the masculine side inside the “Bigg Boss” house?
I was born a man and becoming ‘Begum’ needs elaborate preparation. I need a whole team of people to dress me up.

Are you saying Begum is just a character you play?
No, she is a part of me. But she’s very high-maintenance.

Is it difficult maintaining a bisexual life in a conservative society like Pakistan?
Not at all. Contrary to belief, Pakistan is not such a conservative country. I’m free to lead my life how I choose to.

Do you live with your parents in Pakistan?
My parents are separated. I live with my mother in Islamabad. My father lives in Karachi. I spend a lot of time doing my television work in Karachi. When I’m there, I stay with my father. But my bond with my mother is unique.

Do you have a love life?
I had a love life. Now I am going to a normal life.

Source: The Express Tribune


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