Taali Review
Taali Review(Photo Credit –Youtube)

Taali Review: Star Rating:

Cast: Sushmita Sen, Aishwarya Narkar, Hemangi Kavi, Ankur Bhatia & ensemble

Creator: Arjun Singgh Baran, Kartik Nishandar & Afeeda Nadiadwala Sayed.

Director: Ravi Jadhav

Streaming On: Jio Cinemas

Language: Hindi

Runtime: 6 Episodes, Around 40 Minutes Each.

Taali Review
Taali Review(Photo Credit –Youtube)

Taali Review: What’s It About:

Based on the life of Trans activist Shreegauri Sawant, Taali scales her journey from being born as a boy to a middle-class family to finally accepting her calling and setting out on a journey full of battles.

Taali Review: What Works:

Filmmakers looking at the trans folks with an empathetic lens where they can be the heroes of their story and not scary villains, comic reliefs, victims, and mere plot devices is a welcoming change. We have exploited the community enough, and even 20 subsequent worthy castings won’t compensate for it. But while we welcome the progress in story telling and a gaze that is looking at everyone as humans, does the ‘Us & Them’ dilemma really evaporate with every project? Does a cis-gendered Miss Universe dressed as a transgender person create the same impact as an actual transwoman did in a show a week ago? Yes, I am talking about Trinetra in Made In Heaven season 2. Such a momentous casting.

Taali, written by Kshitij Patwardhan (credited for the story and screenplay), begins with a noble cause, to tell the story of a trans woman who has fought battles to achieve equality and identity. Two things that most of city-dwelling cis-gendered folks get served on a platter. The show headlines for Sushmita has its moments that speak to the audience members in a very empathetic way. While it doesn’t entirely succeed, but it definitely tries to look at Shreegauri Sawant as a human and not someone who walks around with the responsibility of giving identity to people who are struggling with their pronouns even.

For this, they hire a former Miss Universe and turn her into a character that even a decade ago was unlikely. Sen wears the disguise and makes it her own without any hesitation, and the writers, director Ravi Jadhav, and creators, look at this as the silver lining of their project. There is no harm in doing so, but in this process they make their leading actor do a whole lot of heavy lifting. About that later. But the fact that there is only Sushmit and her talent in frame for the most part of it shows you the importance. Her saying dialogues like, “Is Desh mein Yashoda ki requirement zyada hain, “ or the writing giving a nod to her being the Miss Universe, is interesting.

Taali Review
Taali Review(Photo Credit –Youtube)

Taali Review: Star Performance:

Sushmita Sen is her best era, and we never want it to end. First Aarya and now Taali, she only grows. She wears Shreegauri Sawant as her skin and becomes one with the part. She learns the mannerisms, the emotions, and even mends her voice a certain way to become the part. There is a visible effort that has gone into creating this character, and that shows. The slight beard pores that are drawn on her face bring some authenticity that was never seen on the screen.

The conversation of casting trans people for trans roles is one that will go on for eternity, and filmmakers will keep defending their stands. A star like Sushmita Sen playing a resilient, strong figure like Shreegauri Sawant indeed brings more eyeballs to the show and, in turn towards the real-life person, maybe increasing the support that she has been seeking for years. There is some good in this. But one cannot also deny the fact that there is room to include trans folks other than the lead part. While the crowd is mainly of the people from the community, why is there a married cis-gendered actor (Suvrat Joshi) dressed like a trans person playing a secondary part, whereas there are many real ones to take that job?

We will have to meet at a middle ground where both the thoughts meet and flourish together. It is about giving the opportunity, if not the primary, at least the secondary.

Taali Review: What Doesn’t Work:

Taali like said depends a whole lot on Sushmita and very less on people who set out to make it at first. The show starts with a very good thought. It is Shreegauri Sawant telling her story in chapters to a stereotypical white journalist. She wanted to be a mother ever since she was first born as a boy. She grows up, and the story unfolds. But the execution of Taali remains surface level for most of it. There is no deep dive into the life of this inspirational figure. We never meet her alone, in her happiness or doom, the door is always open for other characters to walk in, and even those characters are paper thin one-tone individuals.

Talking of other characters, Ankur Bhatia plays a gay activist who is also fighting for equality. He does say something to the effect of his struggle is nothing in front of Sawant’s, but we are never told how is his struggle like. What makes him? Likewise, for a character that always wanted to be a mother, the show never gets into Gauri’s motherhood. We are never told how she met her first child, or how she brought them up. Only a scene where she sells her gold bangles to bring resources for her kids introduces us to her, and nothing about that aspect later.

The sanitization and over-dramatization of the show in parts disconnect the viewer. Like Ganesh talking about his mother’s love and discovering she is dead in the same scene feels too daily soap. Or the show refusing to show the actual condition of the community while even cleaning up the slum when it enters one is too visible. You know their life isn’t this clean, and their fight isn’t that simple.

Taali Review: Last Words:

Taali is a very half baked show led by a good actor who is flourishing even more now. You can tune into it but with no big expectations.

Must Read: Kaalkoot Review: Vijay Varma Finds His Reel & Real Redemption With A Balanced Stellar Performance That Even Overshadows The Flaws

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