There are many reasons why some really good movies never get the commercial success they deserve. One of the reasons is that they get labeled as “critically acclaimed”. Once this label gets associated with a movie, the general public tends to avoid these kinds of movies. My honest opinion is that ANY movie that can make you emote and/or entertain you is a mainstream movie and should get the commercial success it deserves. One such movie was Margarita with a Straw. Although Kalki Koechlin got lot of “critical” acclaim for her role, the movie was not a commercial success. So is this cocktail worth consuming? Read on to find out.
The movie follows the life of Laila (played by Kalki Koechlin), a young girl from Delhi suffering from cerebral palsy. She is a musical prodigy at her University, falls in love, gets rejected, moves on to the US to pursue her further studies (accompanied by her mother, Revathy), falls in love again; the only difference this time being she ends up being intimate with a guy as well as a girl.
The movie highlights common issues of disability and homosexuality but in the most uncommon way. The lead, Laila has poor muscle control below her waist due to cerebral palsy and her female friend in the US, Khanum (half Pakistani and half Bangladeshi, played by Sayani Gupta) is visually impaired. But nowhere during the movie does the director, Shonali Bose try to extract sympathy from us for their disabilities. She focuses more on other problems that these people face the emotional ones rather than the clichés that we are used to (like a blind person being helped to cross the road). Shonali Bose’s characters tell us a story beyond that. And they are shown so well that by the end of the film you are so engaged that you tend to forget the disability part. Certain parts of the movie deserve a special mention: The one where Revathy finds out her daughter is watching porn, Laila’s sexual tensions and her relationship with Khanum. The director addresses the homosexuality aspect also in very aesthetic way, not using the usual clichés (like the ones Madhur Bhandarkar is so obsessed with). There are other issues too: Khanum is from Pakistan and is worried whether Laila’s Hindu parents would accept her, Revathy has colon cancer and eventually succumbs to it. Another issue which is well depicted is that how the US as is better suited for the differently abled, where not only the people tend to look beyond the persons disability but even from the planning point of view there are better facilities, unlike in India.
Performances wise Kalki, Revathy and Sayani Gupta all are superb (in that order). Each one plays their part convincingly and there is never a dull moment in the film. Kalki’s portrayal of the disabled (or differently abled would be a better term) is simply superb. You never feel sympathy for her but at the same time you suffer as she goes through the emotional turmoil.
I was always under the prejudice that this is a “critically acclaimed” cerebral palsy propaganda/awareness type of a movie and hence did not watch it when it was in the theatres. But this is nothing of that sort and there is much more to the movie than that.
Cocktail as Wikipedia defines “is any generic alcoholic mixed drink that contains three or more ingredients if at least one of them contains alcohol”. There could not have been a more apt a title for the film. This Margarita is a perfect cocktail that blends in the taste of many ingredients. You should definitely get a straw to sip this one!!