Mohammed to Maya

(54 min)

A film by Jeff Roy
2013 | HD


Thursday, October 22, 2015
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Wisconsin Ballroom

Friday, October 23, 2015
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
Conference Room 1

Introduction by Lalita du Perron

Mohammed to Maya is an award-winning documentary that examines issues of (trans)gender identity, sexuality, culture and religion within the fabric of a single person's story. The film follows one year in the life of Maya Jafer (formerly Mohammed Jafer) during her journey through and following gender confirmation surgery in Bangkok, Thailand.

As a young boy, Maya devoted her life to prayer and religious obligation. Then, in her 30s, she immigrated to Southern California from Madurai, Tamil Nadu to follow her dream of becoming a professional holistic medicine practitioner and actress. Along the way, she found herself.

This film follows Maya as she struggles to stay true to herself and her spirituality despite persecution from her family. Was having a sex change the right decision? Will the surgery be successful? How will her family react? Following the conflicts and resolutions in Maya's physical and spiritual journey, this documentary is about a modern-day rite of passage, and the difficulties of letting go and starting new again.

The film engages issues of transgender dis/embodiments and performativity and ties into discussion points presented in the "Materializing Musical Selves in South Asia" and "Caste and Class in Queer Indian Performance" panels. 


About the Filmmaker:

Jeff Roy is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Ethnomusicology at UCLA, currently completing his dissertation on the music and dance of India's trans-hijra communities. His work incorporates methodologies in documentary filmmaking, and engages theories in gender studies, performance studies, and film studies. His work has been supported by fellowships from Fulbright-Hays, Fulbright-mtvU, Film Independent, the American Institute for Indian Studies, and the Society for Asian Music. Roy has also served as the principal instructor of two courses at UCLA: "Survey of Classical Music in India" and "Ethnomusicology of the Closet," a critical look at music ethnographic works on queer performance genres around the world.

Roy has directed and produced two award-winning documentaries surrounding themes of gender and sexuality. His directorial debut film, Rites of Passage (the short film version of Mohammed to Maya), premiered in November 2011 at the Los Angeles Transgender Film Festival, where it won the Audience Choice Award for Best Film, and since then has screened in competition at over 50 international film festivals winning several other awards. Roy's second documentary project, an online video series entitled Music in Liminal Spaces (2012-13), weaves together the lives of Mumbai's underground musicians and dancers who are making an impact on the future of LGBTIQ and Hijra rights in India. Produced by Fulbright-mtvU, the project exists as a series of video portraits, published on the Fulbright-mtvU website:

A professional violinist and vocalist, Roy has performed with a number of internationally renowned musicians, including Dave Brubeck, Leann Rimes, Ustad Imrat Khan, Ustad Shujaat Khan, Ali Jihad Racy, and Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil. He also composes music for film (including Mohammed To Maya) and live performances: