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CBC Gem will stream Deepa Mehta–Sirat Taneja collaboration I Am Sirat

Mehta film
Sirat Taneja (above) approached Deepa Mehta with the idea of making a documentary about her life as a transgender woman in New Delhi.

A documentary offering insights into a transgender woman’s life in India will soon be available across Canada. Sirat Taneja co-directed I Am Sirat with Oscar-nominated Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta (WaterEarthFire). For much of the film, Sirat uses her smartphone to reveal her experiences in New Delhi.

In the documentary, Sirat shows how she must act as a devoted son in her mother’s home while spending the rest of her time as a woman with friends, on social media, and in her government job. CBC Gem will make I Am Sirat available for streaming, beginning on March 3.

“Sirat can’t even get dressed as herself in her own bedroom, renting a space nearby for her clothes and makeup,” wrote veteran Toronto film writer on the Toronto International Film Festival website. “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.

Watch TIFF’s clip from I Am Sirat.

Mehta and Sirat filmed the documentary

Last September, TIFF presented the world premiere. As part of the festival, Wilner interviewed Mehta and Sirat in front of a studio audience.

“I didn’t feel it was my film,” Mehta emphasized. “I felt it was ours.”

Mehta joked that she was terrified of Sirat’s mother, but that didn’t dissuade her from participating in the documentary. However, the director insisted that it had to be Sirat’s film and needed to be seen through her lens with her as the narrator.

There was no regular crew because Sirat filmed herself and Mehta filmed her. It was edited in Punjab and post-production was done in Toronto.

Mehta revealed to Wilner that she had previously worked with Sirat on a project called Leila.

Meanwhile, in the video below, Sirat speaks in Punjabi with Mehta providing translation.

Norm Wilner hosted this Q&A with I Am Sirat co-directors Sirat Taneja and Deepa Mehta.

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Charlie Smith

Charlie Smith

Pancouver editor Charlie Smith has worked as a Vancouver journalist in print, radio, and television for more than three decades.

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We would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. With this acknowledgement, we thank the Indigenous peoples who still live on and care for this land.