Shonali Bose
(Writer, Director & Producer)

Nilesh Maniyar

Atika Chohan
(Hindi Dialogue)

Movie Review
Margarita With A Straw:About a quarter of the exotic

Margarita With A Straw:
About a quarter of the exotic


One good thing finally happening is that niche subjects are now reaching their target audience. Four to five years back, films that would have never got released due to a lack of ‘mass appeal’ in them are hitting theatres every Friday. The niche audience of these films is interested in fresh subjects, realistic portrayals, and mature direction and thus; they lap up any film that has made waves at foreign film festivals – a phenomenon quite new to the Indian film exhibition tradition.

Margarita With A Straw is yet another film – with a welcoming air around it – that broadens the possibilities of our mainstream filmmaking. Written, directed & produced by independent filmmaker Shonali Bose (co-writer Nilesh Maniyar, Hindi dialogue Atika Chohan), the film is refreshing, yet subtle, in its depiction of physical disability. Laila (Kalki Koechlin) is a young college girl suffering with cerebral palsy due to which her physical movements are restricted to a wheelchair. If you’re guessing that this is another tale of a helpless character ending in tragedy, you’re mistaken as Laila’s story is anything but that. She’s a bubbly girl who performs with a rock band and, like everyone else in their early twenties, finds it hard to resist carnal temptations while looking forward to discovering more of sex and romantic relationships. After her traditional mother (Revathi), her closest friend is Dhruv (Hussain Dalal), also a physically disabled person who has a slightly ‘us v/s them’ point of view when it comes to physical attributes. But Laila is a free-spirit with a go-getter attitude and can give the middle one to anyone who might want to direct sympathy in her direction. She has a huge crush on her classmate and co-musician Nima (Tenzing Dalha) but her wish to be with him doesn’t get realized. Laila moves on to pursuing a course in creative writing, in New York, where she meets Jared (William Moseley), a cute boy she develops an instant liking for, and eventually Khanum (Sayani Gupta) whom she forms a relationship with.

Margarita With A Straw is a film boasting of a power-packed performance by the main lead in a role that was bound to become an actor’s delight. While it can be said that the way Laila’s character has been written is both, the film’s content and USP; it’s Kalki’s portrayal that gives it the needed wings. Good luck finding a false note in her performance while traveling through lively and nuanced moments throughout the film. In fact, Kalki has got a great support from Revathi, who portrays a typical but understanding mother, and also Sayani Gupta and Hussain Dalal.

However, what limits this film’s impact and reach is the lack of a dramatic story. The filmmaker has made a choice of keeping it as a ‘slice of life’ thing and as a result, Laila –a unique celluloid character with huge possibilities, doesn’t meet challenges or face dilemmas that can test her actions and choices to the hilt. That, one believes, would have made it an exceptional story giving the audience a more stimulating cinematic experience. Right now, one borders on engaging with the central character and waiting bleakly for the story to hit a different gear. Especially, around the later bit of the second half you might really want it to end sooner because by then, you’re done with investing in Laila and know that the film has emptied whatever stock it had.

Shonali Bose’s direction gives the film an authentic and appealing look, finding good support from camera, edit and the sound department. In all, if you have an appetite for delicate drama, you’ll find it as a good watch. Margarita With A Straw is an exotic drink each sip of which will delight a connoisseur. The larger segment of the audience might, however, feel that it’s not a full cup but a somewhat inadequate serving.

   Dinkar Sharma

Dinkar Sharma is a Screenwriter. His first feature film Second Marriage Dot Com was released in 2012. He can be contacted via his Facebook profile:. https://www.facebook.com/imdinkarsharma.

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