Margarita, with a straw takes the brazen road to the hitherto unexplored area in Bollywood about the way a young, blossoming girl with cerebral palsy discovers her sexuality and the sexual tension in differently-abled people. This unusual idea itself prodded me to watch the movie.
The actress with gumption, Kalki Koechlin, plays Laila, a 19 year old Delhi University student who is afflicted with cerebral palsy and also an uncanny ability to always have a contagious smile. Kalki’s simple beauty is pretty as a sunflower in a meadow and her smile is like sunshine.
When spurned by a boy on whom she has a crush, she seizes the opportunity to study in New York University. The amazing part here is to watch her mother (Revathy) enthusiastically encouraging her to go to New York and her solid confidence that her daughter will be fine there.
Always audacious and out-spoken while seeking new adventures, Laila meets Khanum (Sayani Gupta), a girl from Pakistan-Bangladesh heritage who delicately helps Laila discover that she is bisexual and eventually becomes her lover. The roles are played beautifully and sensitively by both the charismatic actresses. What is touching is to see that their lesbian relationship isn’t depicted as just a fling and is not to be treated in any way differently than a heterosexual relationship.
Revathy’s portrayal of Laila’s mother will remind everyone of their own mother. The way she has acted will, incredibly, make you superimpose your mother’s image on her and you will want to call your mom immediately after the movie.
All through this, we see the sexual curiosity of any teenager in the world and how Laila struggles to understand her own self and in the end accepts herself and loves herself for who she is.
One of the facets of the movie that deserves a big applaud is the portrayal of real strong, ballsy female characters like Laila herself, her astonishingly strong mother and Laila’s girlfriend, the feisty Khanum. The movie also should be saluted for tastefully showing the female desire, when the society is generally fearful of female sexuality.
Margarita, with a straw is a movie that comes at a perfect cusp that is today’s time when the Indian Society is on a brink of changing its attitude towards sexuality, in that it is broadening its mind towards it. The youth of India is taking a proud path towards realizing that homosexuality is natural and that discussing sex and understanding it is quite all right. In recent years, the attitude towards homosexuality has also changed in many of our elders and this can only be proof that our society is advancing.