The biographical drama ‘Talli’, written by Arjun Singh Baran and Kartik D. Nishandar and directed by Ravi Jadhav, is currently airing on JioCinema and stars Sushmita Sen, one of the best actors in Hindi film, as Trans activist Shreegauri Sawant.
The plot centers around the prejudice and lack of constitutional recognition faced by transgender people in India, as well as how they are sexually abused, mistreated by the police and other government entities, and compelled to cope with the stigma of being different.
At the beginning of the series, Ganesh (Gauri’s name as a boy) in a classroom full of students is asked by his teacher what he wishes to be when he grows up. Unaware of his peculiarities, Ganesh responded that he wished to be a mother, to cook and care for others; this response made the teacher uncomfortable and led to his classmates making fun of him.
But he doesn’t let it affect him, so he keeps dressing and applying makeup like a woman. Nevertheless, his father disapproved of the way he was behaving.
His father brings him to the doctor who gives him ‘medicines’ to help him stop acting like a girl in an effort to normalize him after the death of his mother. Ganesh leaves the doctor stunned when he said, “If a fish is different, it is viewed as special and distinct, but why isn’t it the same for me?”
After going through all this, he leaves his house and learns how to be a ‘hijra’ on the streets, begging for money. He comes to understand the struggles that transgender people confront in our nation, where they have lived for many years yet remain unfit to be citizens. Later, after deciding to change his name to Gauri, Ganesh begins educating transgender individuals and raising awareness.
The series has some emotionally charged sequences. We see how Gauri adopts a little girl who is being sold at auction after her mother passed away and saves many more infants who are left on the sidewalk by their families. In another scene, a Trans friend of hers commits suicide, and the hospital dumps her body next to the overflowing trash can. Seeing how poorly Trans people were/are treated, particularly in earlier times, will make you choke.
Sushmita Sen, the protagonist and Our Ms. Universe, demonstrates that she is capable of doing everything. She treads carefully so that the portrayal of a transgender person doesn’t go too to become a caricature. She adds a little of herself to the part to make it her own, which is the cherry on top. She also gives a performance that develops into Talli’s beating heart with a lot of elegance, power, and dignity, but there is also a certain amount of worldliness in her on-screen presence that stands in the way. Her rigid posture and the way she responds to each circumstance feels predetermined beyond a certain point.
The historical ruling by the Indian Supreme Court recognizing transgender people as the Third Gender is expectedly referenced again in the six-episode series. Aside from a brief intermission, the thunderous climax comes to a satisfying conclusion.