Sushmita Sen: Shreegauri's Resilience Is Beyond ‘Gaali’ & ‘Taali’

SheThePeople sat down with Sushmita Sen to talk about why signing the series was significant to her, how there’s more to the activist’s story we must know, and why Sawant’s unmatched resilience is something that she hopes to have one day.

Bhana Bisht
19 Aug 2023 Updated On Aug 26, 2023 17:15 IST
Shreegauri Sawant

Shreegauri Sawant (Left), Sushmita Sen as Gauri Sawant In Taali (Right).

Transgender people are people. Period. While parts of India have gradually come to accept this, it wasn’t too long ago that our country not only failed to recognise the third gender but also made their life more difficult than it already was. Not anymore, and we have Shreegauri aka Gauri Sawant to thank for this.

Sawant’s life as a trans activist isn’t just limited to getting third-gender recognition in the eyes of the law, it also expands to motherhood, creating a safe space for community and fending for those who have no place to call home. While the story of Shreegauri’s fight against the community’s oppression is out there, documenting her journey spanning decades including the triggers and motivation that make her the person she is today was integral and who better than Sushmita Sen to convey that message? 

“Gauri chose me,” said Sushmita Sen a few days back when she was asked why she chose to do the role. Sen, who has received immense love and acknowledgement over decades from the public, decided to use her craft and her voice to tell this powerful tale and the conversation, as she tells us, has just begun. 

As JioCinema’s Taali releases on the OTT platform, SheThePeople sat down with Sushmita Sen to talk about why signing the series was significant to her, how she embodied Sawant’s personality, how there’s more to the activist’s story people must know, and why Sawant’s unmatched resilience is something that she hopes to have one day.


Embodying Gauri Sawant’s Personality 

When she first signed Taali, how important was it for Sen that doesn’t just embody Sawant’s personality accurately but also become a messenger of awareness and change? 

We hoped for all of the above but, at the core, agreeing to do Taali was to become a voice for people. It’s not always about how great of an actor one is or how much body of work one has embodied over the years. In this particular case, it was more about the fact that I am blessed to be loved by people unconditionally for years now and I wanted to use that as a medium to take that love and to channelise it towards the transgender community and to be able to be that voice.


It took a lot of preparation, emotional, mental and physical - a lot of it. But finally, when when the astonishingly talented cast and crew, without which really you cannot make any creative endeavour, came together on sets, we created a telling tale. It was days of a non-stop journey of celebration of finally getting to interact with the community, listening to their stories first-hand, imbibing them in the series, and getting vocal about their lives loud and clear.

"Doing Taali was an emotional journey"

Sen has inspired people with her resilience for decades now. As someone who has always been vocal about her challenges, triumphs and everything in between, Sen, I believe, was the accurate fit to the puzzle of who would be best to do justice to this kind of resilience on screen.


Taali is a larger narrative of the resilience that Sawant carried as an activist and mother. What are the takeaways that the cast and makers want the audience to take from the series?

That I have had resilience in my life is true but if you were to put that resilience in comparison to a Gauri Sawant, minus - It's nothing. I say that with complete awareness of the amount she has gone through. 


You and me, we have the world against us, we’re being judged left, right and centre but there is a father who loves me, a mother who cares, or an aunt and uncle who worry for me, or a friend who always stands by or anyone else in life. To be a Gauri Sawant, you have to have nothing and have no one - and then you have to decide to make a difference in other people’s lives when you have had nothing. With nothing, she has built what she has today. That kind of resilience I can only hope to have in that lifetime. And to do it, irrespective of a ‘Gaali’ or ‘Taali’.

She is a nurturer, when you meet her you realise it is inbuilt, she has it. That someone from her community calls her amma, doesn't surprise me because she is like that in real life - she cares for children that nobody wants and it doesn't have to be eunuch kids, it’s sex workers’ children, HIV-positive patients’ children. She takes them home because they're is no other place for them. That kind of large-heartedness that’s what the platform needed for the world to see; not what you see on Google, or on YouTube, that's already there. There’s also a projection of a very powerful being called Gauri Sawant but if you don’t know her vulnerably and the people around her who made a difference, people who helped her and triggered a change in her, then you don't know this person. 

So, we wanted very much to tell a very simple story, of a magnificent human being - not of a transgender human being. That’s obvious. This has been about her personal victory and the big victory for the third gender at large. But what makes this person do what she does? That’s what Taali reveals.


We wanted to reach as many masses as we could. We want people to raise questions - Inke pass birth certificate nahin tha? (She didn’t have a birth certificate?) Inke saath ye sab hua and kisi ne roka nahin? (She had to endure so much yet no one came to help her?) These questions, this story is starting a conversation, and if that conversation starts, someone will take it forward  - that was our intent.

Suggested reading: Idea Of Being 'Good' Puts Women's Health On Back Burner: Sushmita Sen

#Gauri Sawant #sushmita sen #Shreegauri Sawant