Ali Saleem, aka Begum Nawazish Ali, aka BB – son of a retired army officer – is known to evoke strong reactions and hysterical laughter on Pakistani television.
Hosting late night shows, the begum shot to fame mingling with the who’s who of the Pakistani literati, glitterati and chatterati. Labelled a drag, a eunuch, a cross-dresser – Ali is firmly entrenched amongst the ever-growing coterie of people Pakistanis generally love to hate.
In Pakistan, where publicly talking about sex is strict no-no Saleem has managed not only to bring up the subject on prime-time television talk show — but to do so without inviting any backlash from fundamentalists.
Humming in an elegant sari with fluttering eyelids, she teases her guests on television: “Darling, you are sooo naughty.” While flirting with both male and female guests, she puts pointing, piercing and private questions. On one occasion, the begum squealed at her guest, cricketer Zaheer Abbas, “My god Zaheer you have such big hands. What else do you do with them Zaheeeer?” Abbas smiled sheepishly. Then he tried to needle him about Imran Khan.
“My life fluctuates between two extremes,” says Saleem. “I always say this: I am a man and I am a woman. It is two gender extremes, and I am constantly trying to balance it.” Begum Nawazish Ali is actually a man, the 28-year-old who dons lipstick, mascara and a wig.
Big News: Begum has been signed by 9X! “I am delighted to be a part of the excellent programme on 9X,” he says. Let’s see how well the idea of a Drag Queen Chat show flies with the Indian audiences!