THIS SPECIAL MARGARITA WILL MAKE YOU LAUGH AND CRY
Laila has a love of life - and cerebral palsy. Tasting bittersweet flavours, does Laila come of age?
So, a Margarita is usually sweet - but this one has a cutting edge. Laila (Kalki) loves music, romance and people - but cerebral palsy impairs her motor functions. Laila's loving mother Shubhangi (Revathi) supports her through college. But what happens when Laila meets Khanum (Sayani) and discovers new shades to her sexuality?
Can Shubhangi cope with Laila's secret - and Laila with Shubhangi's?
Margarita with a Straw is an acting triumph. Kalki is amazing, imprisoned in a wheelchair but her spirit flying as she tastes the delights and dilemmas, from crushes to creative pushes, of a college student's life. Giggling, crying, even masturbating, Kalki portrays Laila, charmer, bummer, winner, with unabashed perfection, cheekily asking a shopkeeper for vibrators, the man, thinking of mobiles, responding, 'Maine toh apni wife ko bhi vibrator pe daala hua hai!'
Kalki's matched perfectly by Revathi who shines as a slightly dull middle-class mom, stoically driving a van that evokes Hollywood's quirky Little Miss Sunshine. Their mother-daughter love's so strong, you can almost touch it, just as you can feel the electricity that frizzles angrily between them when they quarrel.
Some scenes are wryly funny - when Laila confesses, 'Ai, main bi hoon', her mother, tired of housework, crossly responds, 'Main kya kam bai hoon?' - while others evoke despair and hope in minutely-detailed settings.
The story is a breakthrough, portraying physical challenges with brightness, not bathos, and the direction's super-sensitive - catch Laila's eyes when she's carried upstairs - yet going boldly where few filmmakers have. Some scenes discomfit - Laila and friend Jared (William) have a bathroom encounter - while others, like family dinners, karela joked over by Laila's father and brother (Kuljeet and Malhaar, both quietly competent) soothe.
The script somewhat over-diligently ticks every possible 'challenge' box, mixed marriages to a Pakistani-Bangladeshi visually affected lesbian. But that small quibble aside, MWAS is deeply moving, a philosophical film which makes you wonder if the body is a palace or prison - and evokes mothers to lovers who've cherished your soul.
Try this Margarita - it's different.