Sunday, April 19, 2015

Review of Margarita with a Straw

Image Courtesy:

Cast: Kalki Koechlin (Laila), Revathi, Sayani Gupta, Kuljeet Singh, Hussain Dalal, Malhar Khushu, Jacob Berger, Tenzin Dalha, Shuchi Dwivedi
Directed by: Shonali Bose
Produced by: Shonali Bose, Nilesh Maniyar
Written by: Shonali Bose
Music: Mickey McCleary
Cinematography: Anne Misawa
Edited by: Monisha R Baldawa
Production Company: Viacom 18 Motion Pictures
Release Date: 8th September, 2014 (TIFF), 17th April, 2015
Duration: 1 hour 40 minutes
Language: Hindi, English

Margarita with a Straw, a film by Shonali Bose, explores the life of a Delhi University girl suffering from Cerebral Palsy. This is a motor disorder, which restricts the movement of the person, but does not affect the intellect at all. In our country, unfortunately, every specially-abled individual is either looked at as a result of a curse or an object of pity. This film tells us that every individual is God's own creation and unique in their own manner and beyond any judgment. Shonali brilliantly puts across the story of Laila, a very sharp, talented, intelligent person and a music lover too. Very touchy topics viz. her growing physical and emotional needs, desires, her exploration to ascertain her own sexual preferences, her taking pleasure by visiting porn sites, her lesbian relationship, her being bisexual as well, her infatuations etc. are depicted with great dignity and sensitivity. Simultaneously, Shonali wins the audience' hearts with her portraying a wonderful mother-daughter relationship through her story; a family not discriminating between their two children etc. But, what supersedes is the journey of a girl to become self-reliant who gets absolutely comfortable with her own self, falls in love with self, seeks inner happiness by going on a date with self.

Laila (Kalki Koechlin) is brilliant and convincing as a patient of Cerebral Palsy. Initially one struggles to understand her speech but as the frames move further, it becomes easier to understand her speech. How realistic, this is how, it happens in real life as well. She is a Delhi University student who dares to explore her sexual desire with another classmate (a specially-abled boy). She gets infatuated with Nima, a college band singer, and writes lyrics for the band but gets heartbroken when her love is not reciprocated by Nima. Laila wants to escape from the college environment, and to her respite, she gets a scholarship to study in New York University.

Shubhangi (Revathi), a very caring and protective mother of Laila accompanies her to USA for making her settled there. Laila falls in love with an young activist. What happens thereafter, how Laila explores her life further, how she evolves into a self-reliant individual, how she fights with the odds / struggles of her life etc. forms rest of the story. Brutally honest Laila surprises you.

Revathi is brilliant. Wonderful aspects of mother-daughter relationship are shown. Moments worth mentioning: Laila shares with Shubhangi regarding her first love, her heartbreak, her demand of privacy, expression of her sexual preferences, Laila leaning on the shoulder of Shubhangi while the later sings a classical song etc.

Sayani has also justified her character so nicely.

Laila is projected like any other normal individual who has different shades to her character - at times selfless, at times selfish, at times manipulative, at times sensitive, at times a rebel.

Margarita with a Straw peeks into the complex inner world of Laila without a tinge of guilt, or getting preachy or becoming judgmental. It does not even regret her being confined to a wheel chair, rather projects her physical challenges with lot of hope and brightness. A story which is very sensitively handled and focuses on any individual's personal choice, freedom to live his / her life irrespective of the odds.

Margarita with a Straw is the transformational journey of Laila to be a self-reliant individual. It will definitely prompt you to go on a date with your self and sit back to enjoy Margarita.

Rating: 3.5/5 (Good+)