In a powerful new cinematic endeavour, the life and work of Indian transgender activist Shreegauri Sawant will be brought to the big screen in a `Taali`. The project is helmed by National Award-winning director Ravi Jadhav, written by Kshitij Patwardhan, and jointly produced by Arjun Singgh Baran, Kartk D Nishandar of GSEAMS Production, and Afeefa Nadiadwala. The series will spotlight Sawant`s brave journey of mobilization of trans rights marked by struggle, resilience and persistence.
The film features renowned actress Sushmita Sen in the lead role as Sawant. A recent teaser gives us a glimpse into Sen`s portrayal of the queer activist. As Sawant, she`s seen being respectfully greeted by members of the transgender community. Intriguingly, a photo of queer icon and legendary singer Usha Uthup also features in the backdrop.
The teaser opens with the radical words `Koi mujhe hijra bulaata hai, toh koi social worker; koi nautanki bulaata hai, toh koi game changer.” Sawant is acutely aware of social perceptions as she reveals in this striking narration – “Some call me a hijra, some a social worker. Others call me someone who is mired in drama and pretence, while others refer to me as a game changer.”
The teaser also reveals snippets of Sen`s dialogues in `Taali.` “Swaabhimaan, sammaan aur swantantrata, mujhe yeh teeno chahiye” – “self-respect, respect from society and community and liberation, I want all three of these” – she states defiantly.
Born in Pune, Sawant left her home during her teenage years to avert disappointing her father, a serving police officer. She later founded the Sakhi Char Chowghi Trust in 2000, an NGO devoted to offering counselling to the transgender community and promoting safe sex practices. In 2014, Sawant made history by becoming the first transgender activist to petition the Supreme Court for adoption rights for transgender people. She was also involved in the landmark case that led to the Supreme Court recognizing transgender people as the third gender.
The upcoming film marks a significant return for Sushmita Sen who was last seen in the critically acclaimed role of a homemaker-turned-gangster Aarya in Season 2 of Ram Madhvani`s thriller series on Disney+ Hotstar in 2021. After suffering a cardiac arrest during the shooting of Aarya Season 3, Sen took a brief sabbatical from acting but has since resumed work. The third season of Aarya is completed and will soon debut on the streaming platform.
`Taali` promises to be a landmark film, shedding light on the plight and arduous journey of the beginning of recognition of trans rights in India through the lens of Shreegauri Sawant`s courageous journey.
The series will stream on JioCinema on August 15, 2023. Celebrate this Independence Day by learning more about this unsung heroine!