Caught between duty and self-determination, Sirat Taneja is a transgender woman who must act as her mother’s son when at home in New Delhi, but can be the woman she really is with her friends and at work with the Government of India. A collaboration between director Deepa Mehta and Sirat, the film has been constructed around Sirat’s lens. Shot on smartphones, Sirat controls her narrative and makes it accessible to us.
I Am Sirat
From Oscar-nominated filmmaker Deepa Mehta and first-time documentarian Sirat Taneja comes this unprecedented look at trans life in Delhi — through the eyes of Sirat, a trans woman forced to go back into the closet when living with, and caring for, her traditional mother.
Out in the world, Sirat has a great life — a good job, supportive friends both in and out of the city’s queer community, and a growing presence on Instagram, where she lip-synchs pop songs with pointed messages about empowerment and sexuality.
But at home, Sirat must pretend to be someone she never was — the dutiful son of a mother who can’t accept the idea of a trans daughter. Sirat can’t even get dressed as herself in her own bedroom, renting a space nearby for her clothes and makeup. And this seemingly irresolvable conflict proves to be a microcosm of modern India — caught between tradition and progress, and not changing as fast as some need it to.
This is a true collaboration between Deepa Mehta and Sirat Taneja, whose candid footage, shot in portrait mode on her phone, is key to I Am Sirat’s authenticity. But Mehta’s empathetic eye and compassionate interviewing style prove just as essential, letting Sirat tell her own story on her own terms — and be seen, as she is, in full.
Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival
Content advisory: mature themes, bullying, coarse language