Shabana Azmi starrer Signature Move is an American indie comedy-drama helmed by Chicago based director Jennifer Reeder and co-written and produced by Fawzia Mirza. The film is about a Pakistani Muslim lesbian living in Chicago with her mother, played by Shabana Azmi. Signature Move premiered at the 2017 South by Southwest Film Festival, and screened at the 19th Jio MAMI Film Festival on Tuesday in Mumbai.
The core elements in Signature Move are as diverse as the overall themes — From a lesbian romance between women of Pakistani and Mexican origins, parental conflicts, strict tenets of the Islam faith to the world of female Mexican lucha libre wrestling.
Signature Move is indeed a hilarious and heartfelt look at modern families and the complexities of love in its many forms.
Talking about Signature Move, Shabana Azmi said, “When I met Fawzia I didn’t even know what a Lucha Libra wrestler is! But the fact that Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Film Institute had mentored the script and Michael Shannon was investing in it made me consider it. On enquiry, I gathered Fawzia’s politics is similiar to my own and that it was a production comprised mainly of women which also made it attractive. There was something about Fawzia that reached out to me and that’s why I said yes.”
Shabana also remarked that the highlight of American indie comedy-drama is that it normalises the gay community and doesn’t showcase them as belonging to another planet.
Fawzia Mirza plays Zaynab, a closeted Pakistani-American lawyer in Chicago, whose mother Parveen (portrayed beautifully by Shabana Azmi) is recently widowed and seems equally obsessed with marrying off her daughter to an appropriate Pakistani man as she is with watching her South Asian TV soap operas. The drama ramps up after Zaynab meets the flamboyant and very openly gay bookstore owner Alma (Sari Sanchez) at a North Side bar and has a fling, which she thinks will only be a one-night stand.
The two women quickly fall for each other, but Alma is very frustrated by Zaynab’s seeming inability to come out to her mother, given her own Mexican family is fully aware she is a lesbian.
Signature Move has been praised internationally.