Margarita, With A Straw Movie Review



Director Shonali Bose and lead actress Kalki Koechlin are on top of their respective games in Margarita, With a Straw, an offbeat drama that is both sensitive and provocative.

The wonderfully well-scripted film (screenplay: Bose and Nilesh Maniyar) focuses on the most intimate physical and emotional needs of a woman with cerebral palsy.

It delivers a poignant and uplifting portrait of an individual determined to live life to the lees despite all the odds she faces owing to her restricted motor skills.

Margarita, With A Straw narrates its emotionally arresting and startlingly revelatory story without resorting to the mawkish or the preachy.

It is the sophistication of the making that stands out: Margarita, With A Straw is adroitly crafted. It eschews tear-jerking theatrics. And it does not take recourse to any shrill remonstrations to get its point across.

The protagonist, Laila (Koechlin), is unlike any heroine that Indian cinema has ever showcased.

She is physically challenged, but that isn’t the only aspect of her personality that the director underlines. Laila has to contend with several other ‘minority’ identities.
She is a woman in a man’s world. She is a Sikh’s daughter. And her sexual orientation isn’t obviously deemed ‘normal’ by those that that do not know better.

But nothing at all can stop Laila from pursuing the urges of the flesh and soul in quest of self-fulfilment.

In the film’s early scenes, it isn’t easy to grasp the words that trickle out of her lips – and that is exactly how it would be for any of us if we were to meet a person with CP in real life.

But soon enough, once we have warmed up to Laila’s manner of enunciation, all barriers to comprehension vanish.

Laila – and the film – grows on us steadily as she emerges as a ‘full-bodied’ character making no bones about her need for sexual gratification.

So nuanced is the characterisation that the fact that Laila is a physically challenged woman eventually ceases to matter.

Rarely, if ever, has an Indian film portrayed disability with such matter-of-fact directness, without mining it for undue sympathy for an afflicted character’s plight. Margarita, With A Straw only seeks rounded understanding.

It manages to evoke a full appreciation of the adventurous spirit of a woman who breaks all preconceived notions about life in a wheelchair. Laila is as stoic as she is heroic.
Laila’s mother (Revathy) is the magnifying glass through which we view her.

She is Laila’s one-woman support system. She stands rock-solid behind her daughter despite the moments of tension and unease that inevitably erupt when the latter comes out.

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