As the glitz-and-glam of TIFF wrapped up in Toronto over the weekend, a special film titled “I Am Sirat” made its international debut.
“I Am Sirat”, which stars Sirat Taneja and c0-directed by Deepa Mehta, follows a transgender woman in New Delhi, India, who must act as her mother’s son at home but lives her true self around her friends and colleagues.
Taneja and Mehta caught up with ET Canada’s Sangita Patel, discussing the importance of international LGBTQ+ representation on the silver screen.
“I don’t feel it’s mine. It’s her narrative. It’s through her lens. It’s her journey as a trans woman in India,” says Mehta of the story, which was completely shot on smartphones.
“My mother knows about my sexuality but she doesn’t accept it.”
Taneja expressed that although her mother knows she’s at TIFF, she still doesn’t accept her identity.
“She knows about my sexuality but she doesn’t accept it. Because of the society’s pressure, relatives pressure.”
“I think that Sirat’s story and the way she tells it made me realize that it’s a universal story in many ways,” added the 73-year-old director. “I felt that I was fighting with my own duality. I still can’t accept Canada as home. I still feel India as home. But when I’m in India, I don’t accept that.”
On the topic of trans representation, Mehta thinks trans actors should play trans characters, but they should be “good actors.”
Recently, films and shows in India came under scrutiny for casting cis actors in trans roles — such as actress Vaani Kapoor in “Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui” and Sushmita Sen in “Taali”. While there has been a shift in perspective. The makers of “Made In Heaven” have been lauded for the casting of a trans actress Trinetra Haldar in a recurring role in the series.
“I think it’s really important to show where we are to represent the honesty of where it comes from but it shouldn’t be tokenism.”
“I mean, I think it’s really important to show where we are to represent the honesty of where it comes from. But also, I think we should make it make sure that it’s not tokenism. That’s extremely important to me.”
“I can be a Bollywood fan or a Hollywood fan, but before all of that, I’m a fan of cinema, and TIFF has given us that. So I’m very, very touched by TIFF this year.”