The six-episode biographical series stars Sushmita Sen as Gauri Sawant, the iconic transgender activist and petitioner in the landmark 2014 case where the Supreme Court of India declared transgender as the third gender.
An early scene features Gauri telling a journalist profiling her to “ask new questions” because her information is already available online. And then, Taali proceeds to do the exact opposite of that, reducing Gauri Sawant to a bunch of online bullet points.
A lot of Taali unfolds like an amateur stage production and has the moral depth of an Amar Chitra Katha comic. A pimp has a thick beard and long oily hair; a sex worker has a fake mole on her cheek; a sleazy employer who tries to sleep with Gauri is bald and boisterous.
Most of all, the series is visibly seduced by the idea of a Bollywood actress playing a transgender celebrity. Much of it seems to be written to amplify Sushmita Sen’s performance rather than the brave character she’s playing.
Like Gauri’s frenzied showdown with hospital workers who refuse to touch her friend’s body. Like the juxtaposition of a post-op Gauri’s integration ceremony with her father conducting the last rites of the son he ‘lost’.