Banner: Viacom 18 Motion Pictures
Producer: Shonali Bose & Nilesh Maniyar
Director: Shonali Bose
Cast: Kalki Koechlin, Revathi, Sayani Gupta, Kuljeet Singh, Hussain Dalal, Malhar Khushu, Jacob Berger, Tenzin Dalha, Shuchi Dwivedi & William Moseley
Music: Mickey McCleary
Director Shonali Bose had proved her directorial versatility with her debut directorial offering ‘Amu’ an extremely sensitive film dealing with a woman’s sensitive issue. And now she has climbed a notch higher with her directorial finesse in her 2nd outing ‘Margarita With A Straw’. The film deals not only with a disability (Read Cerebral Palsy) in a budding persona Laila but also scratches the surface of her inherent sexual desire with “gay” abundance.
‘Maragarita With A Straw’ relates the story of a wheel chair bound Laila (Kalki Koechlin) who is suffering from a disease known as cerebral palsy disoder. She is living with her mother Shubhangini (Revathy), her brother Monu (Malhar Khushu) & her father Baljit (Kuljeet Singh). Laila, in fact is a strong headed girl, who doesn’t let that ‘handicap’ word obstruct her from penning soul stirring lyrics for her rock band. Laila yearns to be counted amongst the ‘normal’ people and lands up dumping her boyfriend Dhruv (Hussain Dalal) because he is handicapped and she even has the guts to show her middle finger to the judges of a rock show amidst a huge audience because they decide to give her band the 1st prize, only because, the lyrics were penned by a ‘handicapped person’ like her. As time passes by, Laila ultimately falls in love with one of her band member Nima (Tenzing Dalha) but when he doesn’t reciprocate her feelings, her world comes crashing down. Life moves on as Laila decides to start afresh when she shifts with her mother for her creative writing course at New York University. Out here Laila, starts developing feelings for her classmate Jared (William Moseley), with whom she eventually gets physical. However, there appears a twist in Laila’s life, when her blind room partner Khanum (Sayani Gupta) confesses that she is “gay” and that she loves her a lot. Eventually Laila also starts developing a liking for Khanum and they both end up getting intimate with each other. That’s when Laila realizes that she is a bisexual, who is torn between the battle of two sexes & her own sexual preferences. Gathering all the courage & confidence, she confesses to her mother about her sexual orientation. Life however gets topsy-turvy for Laila when she discovers a startling truth about her mother Shunbhangi too.
Hats off to director Shonali Bose for tackling such a complex theme of a girl’s disability in lieu with her sexual orientation. Shonali really needs to be applauded for shooting the sex scenes without making it look vulgar or cheap. Three cheers for presenting the whole complicated journey of Laila so lovingly, adding a sensitive directorial touch of her own. So much so that it leaves you absolutely shaken and teary eyed by the time you leave the auditorium. Her message is loud & clear that it is pointless to hate a person for his or her disability & even a preferred sexual orientation. Poking fun at such persons where it hurts most, that too time and again is downright disgusting & shameful. Such persons should look within themselves before even trying to find fault in others. Full marks & kudos to Shonali Bose’ entire cast & crew for their brilliance in all the department. The film has won National & International appreciation not to forget the rave reviews in its global festival circuits. Now it only needs a word of mouth appreciation from the national audiences.
Performance wise Its a Kalki Koechlin film all the way right from the word go as she has literally lived the role of Laila by fully & totally getting into the skin of the character. She has delivered an absolutely convincing & flawless act. Her body language portraying the disability and the feelings depicting the sexual orientation is shockingly stunning. The next in line memorable performance comes from Revathy as she lends her own finesse. She is brilliant when she silently conveys her own pain & suffering. Sayani Gupta is ok in her ill sketched character. The other actors like Kuljeet Singh, Malhar Khushu, Hussain Dalal, Tenzing Dalha, William Moseley have lended their own adequate touch in this sensitive tale of Laila.
Tail Piece: ‘Margarita With A Straw’ can be surely & definitely recommended as a not to be missed film.