'Margarita With A Straw'
Director: Shonali Bose
Cast: Kalki Koechlin, Revathi, Sayani Gupta, Hussain Dalal, Tenzin Dalha
Director Shonali Bose deserves a round of applause just for taking on an intense and sensitive issue of frustrations and helplessness attached to the unfulfilled sexual desires of a disabled person. Attempting to talk about this to a world which largely treats disabled people as sexless beings and conveniently looks away, this is an absolutely brave move.
Kalki Koechlin in 'Margarita With A Straw'
This is the story of Laila (Kalki Koechlin), a young girl suffering from cerebral palsy (a condition that leads to impaired muscle coordination making it difficult for the patient to walk or move other body parts). She is bound to her wheelchair. Her condition, however, has not stopped her from venturing out to lead an independent 'normal' life as she has the support of her strong, sensitive yet no-nonsense mother (Revathi), a loving father (Kuljeet Singh) and her young brother (Malhar Khushu).
Thanks to her family and her own personality, Laila's world doesn't seem any different from any other awkward, unsure teenager grappling with their sexual desires. Laila's strength of personality comes to the fore when she initiates an intimate moment with another wheelchair-bound classmate, Dhruv (Hussain Dalal). However, her heart beats for Nima (Tenzin Dalha), and when he turns her down, it seems as crushing and heartbreaking as would be with any teen rejected by her first love.
What works for this film is the realistic, practical and matter-of-fact treatment of Laila's condition, just like the way her mother and the rest of the family go about treating her. There is no melodrama, no lamenting, no openly dramatic outbursts to remind Laila that she is different from the others. The mother clearly worries about her sexual curiosity but she doesn’t make it too obvious.
The first half grips you as you get involved in Laila's fascinating life, sometimes delightful sometimes painful, even when she struggles to come to terms with her growing desires, through desperate measures or natural progression.
The second half, however, disappoints as it slows down to a tedious pace and the script serves too many complications on one plate. Laila goes abroad and gets involved in a lesbian relationship with a blind girl. And then there is grave illness and death in the family, adding to all the misery. Unfortunately, this otherwise bright, optimistic film ends up succumbing to a rather convoluted script, making it absolutely unbelievable at a certain point of time.
However, certain extremely sensitive, touching moments do try and make up for the flaw in the script — scenes like the one where Laila wakes up to the noise of her otherwise easygoing father's helpless sobs in the middle of the night, or when her mother leaves her to dress for herself after a fight are memorable.
The star cast is pretty good. A special mention has to be made of the ever dependable Revathi, who yet again delivers a convincing act. But of course, it is Kalki who takes your breath away with a superlative performance. Undoubtedly with one of the finest performances in recent years, Kalki lives and breathes Laila with such amazing ease and conviction that she stays in your head for a long time after you have left the theatre.
Bollywood celebs raise a toast to 'Margarita With A Straw'
Aamir Khan: 'COURT' and 'MARGARITA WITH A STRAW'. Its Diwali for film lovers. Don't miss either.
Shraddha Kapoor: Just watched #MargaritaWithAStraw trust me, you guys cannot miss this film. It is just so heartwarmingly beautiful!!! Have laughed & cried!!
Aditi Rao Hydari: You have to watch #MargaritaWithAStraw- overwhelming, sniffle inducing AND makes your heart soar with hope happiness all at once!
Anurag Kashyap: So proud of you @kalkikanmani . Seen you prepare for it and then saw it on screen.. Worth every bit of it..
Anupam Kher: 'Cinema with Soul' is a rarity in today's time. Shonali Bose's 'Margarita with a Straw' is one such film. Go & watch it friends.:)
Gulshan Devaiah: A very emotional film with the heart and soul being a world class performance from @kalkikanmani #MagaritaWithAStraw . I could not not cry
Radhika Apte: Just saw#MWAS @kalkikanmani my lovely I am head over heals in love with your performance and @sayanigupta"kamini"you are the next big thing!
Sai Tamhankar: It's a proud Friday Mornin! Friends makin me proud at the Cannes @avinasharun20 n sum beautiful releases at the theatres. #Court #Margarita
Ranvir Shorey: The brilliant @kalkikanmani rocks #MargaritaWithAStraw, a sensitive & spirited coming-of-age story of a girl facing extraordinary adversity.
Shirish Kunder: Watched Margarita with a Straw. But you can watch without a Straw. Good, sensitive story, well-shot & well-performed. Congrats Shonali Bose!
Watch the trailer of 'Margarita With A Straw'