Aishwarya Ramesh

Bhima Jewellery's 'Pure as Love' ad traces the journey of a transgender woman through jewellery

This utopian jewellery ad is bereft of glamorous close-up shots of the products and aims to be a tale of acceptance.

A jewellery ad has caught the Internet’s imagination and, for once, not in a bad way. Animal’s latest ad for Bhima Jewellery, titled 'Pure As Love', features the story of a transgender woman. The ad traces the journey of her transition from man to woman – with jewellery playing an integral role in taking the narrative forward.

Bhima Jewellery is a 96-year-old company based in Trivandrum, Kerala. Navya Suhas, online operations head, Bhima Jewellery, Trivandrum, admits that quite a few people, including her own family members, had reservations about the ad.

“It’s something we’ve never done before and we were, in that sense, walking into uncharted territory. But I believed that this concept, if executed well, could start a dialogue that is required in today’s society.”

Suhas says that if the company was able to stay relevant even today, it would be able to thrive and be successful.

She credits the advent of social media for being the starting point for many of these conversations about social issues. “People have become more receptive to content like this, which may not have been possible a couple of years back. If you look at the advertisements that were released 8-10 years ago and the jewellery ads being released now, there is a world of difference.”

She adds that social media has brought the world closer together in order to facilitate dialogue and conversation.

When asked why she chose to go with this theme for the ad, Suhas explains that the journey of a transgender woman is not a very easy one. “They hardly find acceptance in society, and sometimes, within their own family. I think they crave that acceptance the most. So, instead of showing a depressing story, we wanted to show a positive narrative of what we would like society to look like – where everyone could be themselves without the fear of being judged.”

The one-minute-30-second-long ad film comes at a time when most companies are being trolled (some say, unfairly) for ads that stand for a social cause [as was the case with Tanishq's ad portraying interfaith marriage]. But Suhas says that she believed that if the story was treated right, with sensitivity, it would be perceived the right way.

“We cast a real transgender person in this ad because we wanted the story to be as authentic as possible to do justice to the cause, the person and the community. Making the film was a collaborative process and the agency was very patient, no matter how many changes we sent to them.”

Sayantan Choudhury, senior partner at Animal, mentions that jewellery itself was important to the ad and its storyline. “In India, giving jewellery is an ingrained tradition and in a way, it’s a form of giving someone a blessing. People don’t just buy jewellery, it’s collected over a period of time. It also comes with a connotation of acceptance too.”

“We wanted to craft our communication around these lines and make the storyline layered. The client was clear that we shouldn’t do something half-heartedly. We wanted to do justice to that communication.”

Sayantan Choudhury
Sayantan Choudhury

On the ad’s length, Choudhury says that it is because a journey takes time to shape and establish a story. “We wanted to capture the metamorphosis of the person. In the beginning of the film, we see her as shy, somewhat reserved, and towards the end, you see her blooming and really coming into her own. Jewellery plays a pivotal role in the storyline in every step.”

He adds that it was challenging to find the right actor for the role because many transgender women did not want to relive the trauma of their life before their transition. “It’s so raw and emotional for them to portray their life before the transition. Meera Singhania was perfect for the role because she was able to fearlessly portray her life before the transition.”

People say that the movie portrays an idealistic situation, where there was no opposition whatsoever to Singhania’s identity. Choudhury, however, does not debate this point, he agrees with it.

“We acknowledge that the narrative is quite utopian, but most stories of transgender women in media come with a lot of trauma and conflict. We wanted to change that conversation with a positive narrative for a change.”

Choudhury also says that it was possible that the concept was met with opposition at the boardroom level, but the clients did not allow that to stifle their creativity. He says that this is the brand’s ad film for the coming year and that it will come up with shorter edits of 60, 30 and 20 seconds for different mediums.