Taali: Gauri Sawant Deserved Better Than This

The series feels like a textbook in motion with very little spontaneity, let alone any flashes of inspiration

Taali poster (Photo Courtesy: IMDb)
Taali poster (Photo Courtesy: IMDb)

Subhash K Jha

Taali: Bajaungi Nahin Bajwaungi (JioCinema; 6 Episodes)

Rating: **

A brave, bountiful central performance by Sushmita Sen cannot rescue this dull limpid bio-series from falling flat on its virtuous face.

Ravi Jadhav, a powerful name in Marathi cinema whips up a frenzy of righteous indignation for the transgender community (suddenly in-demand in our web shows, there is a pivotal trans character in Made In Heaven 2). But not much else. The series feels like a textbook in motion with very little spontaneity, let alone any flashes of inspiration.

The storytelling is bolstered more by a studied political correctness.  Sen’s transformative performance is designed to be career-defining. She is  especially effective in showing Gauri’s physical metamorphosis from a shy  effeminate Mumma’s boy to a fierce and militant fighting for the right of the third sex.

The childhood chapter of Gauri’s life as a boy is played by wonderful young actress Krutika Deo. The rest of the supporting cast is killingly listless.

The basic story of Gauri Sawant’s struggle for dignity and voting rights for the trans community is astonishing. Director Ravi Jadhav and his writer Kishitij Patwardhan seem so enamoured of their subject that they lose all objectivity. The deification applied to a seriously flawed  life make it seem as though the struggles and battles of a marginalized canonises them.

In truth the battle of the non-mainstream community are far from pleasant, let alone imitative. The series is more verbal than visual, with Sushmita’s Gauri talking to journalists, social workers and bureaucrats rather than living that challenging life that the real Gauri did in order to win dignity for her community.

Especially awkward are the moments when Sen’s Gauri lets out her Mata Kali banshee yells every time she is losing an argument. The last episodes get particularly embarrassing when, after a colleague’s death, Gauri barges into a snorting bureaucrat's (Ananth Mahadevan) chamber threatening to  undress herself unless he apologises.

I am not too sure poor Mahadevan is supposed to apologise for. But Ananth, I could feel your pain,

As for Sen’s Gauri, she never lets us forget she is playing to the galler. Chewing paan or chewing up her opponents, Gauri is out to get her claps.

If only the series had used gentler brush strokes for the bruised! Instead  of watching this blizzard of melodrama from the bleeding hearts’ club, watch Neeraj Ghaiwan’s three minute advertisement for Vicks featuring the real Gauri Sawant.

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Published: 15 Aug 2023, 2:41 PM