I had waited so long that I gulped it down hastily, greedily and this might have affected my judgement and caused disappointment.
There is no denying that ‘Margarita with a straw’ is made with great sensitivity and good intention. This feat could only be accomplished by someone who has lived with cerebral palsy and has noticed the finer nuances of a patient’s life . So a sister should have been the perfect person to make such a biopic. Strangely, it’s not so, being so close to the subject has made the director lose perspective.
Shonali Bose has so much to say that she ends up ranting. This seems to be the undoing of the film. She hurriedly goes through the bias and prejudice against the physically disabled and how life is easier for them in the west, she lightly brushes the fact that Laila is an average teenager with raging hormones, that the difference is in the muscular dysfunction not the adolescent mind which needs to experiment.And just when the audience is coming to terms with her sexuality the bombshell of bisexuality is dropped . The grief of losing a lover is mingled with the loss of a mother. All this is way too much to grasp, in an hour and forty minutes
The strength of the film was Laila’s poignant relation with herself as she asserts her independence and yet is dependent on others for her most basic bodily functions. Also integral to the film is the mother who struggles to understand her daughter’s right to privacy and personal decisions. But this relationship, which could be an entire film is broached superficially as the director rushes to other subjects.
Kalki Koechlin excels as Laila and although her disability waxes and wanes ( watch Eddie Redmayne in ‘ The Theory of Everything’ for a flawless performance). Yet she manages to bring out the vulnerability and determination of the character with rare dignity. Her endeavour to live life to the fullest is portrayed with warmth. Revathi as the confused yet supportive mother is discarded too soon and without reason . The rest of the characters, including Laila’s father and lover, are mere caricatures.
‘Margarita with a straw’ is a good film which could have been better if the director had saved some of the stories for a possible sequel. The viewer needs time to connect with complex characters and for information to sink in.
The title is a comment on the adversarial nature of Laila’s life where she asserts her right to have a cocktail but needs a straw to drink it. Somehow the title also brings images of slowly sipping a cool refreshing citrusy drink. Nothing could be further from the truth. The film seems more like a bunch of tequila shots, heady and potent which leave you faint and dizzy!