TIFF 2023: Our Review of ‘I Am Sirat’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Movies, TIFF 2023 by - September 17, 2023
TIFF 2023: Our Review of ‘I Am Sirat’

Sirat Taneja, just like many people, has someone in her past who broke her heart. The co-director and main interviewee in I Am Sirat talks about Vasu, a co-worker turned boyfriend who, because of familial and religious pressures, left her for a cis woman. The film documenting this heartbreak also comes from co-director Deepa Mehta, who releases her first documentary in decades.

‘Heartbreak’ may be too strong of a word, so I’ll settle with the word ‘difficulties’, as I Am Sirat shows the highs and lows of being a transwoman in post-colonial India. Sirat can go clubbing with gay guys she may have feelings for. But after some great nights, she has to come to her mother, who doesn’t want her living her true self.

Mehta’s filmography shows her oscillating between showing an aestheticized India (or diaspora) or its rawer side. There are some minuses but mostly pluses as she and Taneja captures the latter’s life through smartphones. In particular, it shows us Taneja’s relationship with her phone. She shines in her Instagram stories. But many of her conversations with her mother are through phone calls.

The pitch for I Am Sirat mentions the co-director’s mother but it feels like it keeps the latter at bay. There may have been a version of this that has more flesh and nuance, although thankfully this isn’t one of those films where we have to bear with a queerphobic parent. This leaves the film, thankfully, to focus on the larger issues.


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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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