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Review: Margarita with a straw (hindi/english)

May 7, 2015

Wanted to see this picture in cinemas so put a request for company in my school whatsapp group. All shows were nightshows but there was one in Satyam this week in the evening (on popular demand I guess). A friend called up and said she had booked thro’ her mobile application – only 2 tickets were available and I was welcome.

Before I go to the review I want to mention here,this my friend’s husband is sinking everyday with cerebral atrophy. He was diagnosed with the condition a couple of years back and ever since my friend is pulling double-shift to make ends meet. She is travelling by overcrowded buses, starts her day by 6 am and goes home by 10. Its a miracle she has kept depression and frustration at bay. Her aged in-laws are taking care of their bed-ridden son.

I could see why my friend wanted to see the picture. ‘We are also young yaar, we too have emotions – which we suppress. We are not saints not to want or seek male company’ she said and I could perfectly understand her. We girls don’t belong to our parents’ generation and neither are we with the no-holds-barred GenNext. We are caught in this ‘trishanku swarg’ (or  perhaps ‘narag’ in some instances) – unable to move on or go down.

The girl needed a break and the picture was a welcome diversion.

I luv Satyam ambience anyway but mostly I have been there with my family only – for nightshows, the way the men prefer it. It was cute when my son asked with surprise, ‘you going to a picture with your friend Ma? alone? you know your way around? you only have to flash the message in your mobile… stay safe!!’

The old Satyam before it was refurbished used to be a favourite family cinema in my younger days. I remember going there for ‘Sholay.’ Even in my teenage I  watched some pictures there.

Now Satyam has metamorphosed into a youth hang-out with gaming zones etc., where middle-aged like us feel like fish out of water! Indeed I and my friend were put off by the young crowd milling about us among whom we looked like great grand aunts!

My son had told me about the popcorn in studio-5 as if I was a KG student, alerting me that the sprinkler like cheese topping had to be done by ourselves. Still when I was struggling and my friend had an armful of diet coke & cream donut, 2 young boys in my son’s age stopped to help us out! Clearly we girls were making a scene out there! I am clumsiest when it comes to this kind of things always!

We laughed and made our way to the seats. The evening went pleasant.

I like Kalki Koechlin and its unbelievable that she is a total French without any mixing (!) I think her Indian upbringing and the consequent love for India have completely banished any french traces in her. More desi than all of us put together! She blends with Indian crowd and can easily pass for north Indian. May be its an outright insult to her to even say she fits in. She is one among us and does not stand out. She fits the role fine and has done a class & natural act in the picture. Her voice for the cerebral palsy character is incredible. She has practically lived the character.

Throughout the picture Kalki is donning very nice cotton kurtis and beautifully handcrafted earrings -cool ethnic stuff. Even Khanum, her friend, dresses well. As a woman not so steeped in fashion sense, I still found the clothes and jewelry fascinating. The antique earrings are so thoughtfully captured in the camera frame by frame with such a knack that you don’t miss them! Danglers (jhumkas) are always my favourites! Normally I wear only gold & diamonds but I am willing now to try out the semi-precious, inspired by Kalki!

About the mother Revathi, she used to be my favourite No.1 tamil actress in teenage. Her personal life does not look great. She has bloated but in reality she can’t be over 5-10 years older than me.

I am playing one of my favourite Revathi songs:

Character actress who has been the leading lady in many Kamal Hasan, Rajni Kanth & other tamil films. Unluckily Bollywood never knew her for her worth. So finally when this film has happened, I hope the hindi belt comes to see the full potential of this superb heroine who made her debut in tamil pictures in her teens.

Her roles and her scripts were always heavy – so sometimes I used to wonder whether that was the reason perhaps her life was not as cheerful. Whereas bubbly actresses like Jyothika and Kushboo have settled down well in married life with beautiful families to show off.

Revathi has done justice to Laila (played by Kalki)’s mother’s role that she plays in the film. Only a mother can digest anything about her child the way none other can. Even serial killers and rapists have mothers who remain in denial who believe the best in their sons. A mother’s heart is like that.

Laila’s mother does eventually come around accepting the bisexuality of her CP daughter.

The girl who plays Khanum does a great job as well. I am not against gays/lesbians but I have to agree I kind of find the scenes repulsive sorry! But each one’s sexual orientation is his/her personal choice and I have absolutely no problems with that.

Disability is something I got exposed to very early in my life. As my mother was teaching hearing & speech impaired kids, we sisters would attend all their school functions like annual day, sports day etc. Besides even during vacations we would sometimes pay a visit and play with hostel children. The blind section was in the adjacent wing. Teaching blind kids was toughest.

I recall a blind school teacher, a friend of my mother, trapping a crow with the help of her husband – baiting it with food in their terrace. I think I might have been in my primary school then. Husband & wife tied the beak and the claws of the bird. Then they caged it and took it to the blind school where the children could actually touch the creature and feel for themselves. It was not necessary but some teachers held that kind of involvement and sense of commitment to their profession in those days! It was the topic of the month for us! Now when I think of it, I marvel at the dedication of the teacher to teaching her blind wards. She went out of the way to be kind and generous to her pupils. She really wanted the children to ‘see’ what she could, and that touches me kind of.

When I was in highschool, Kamal Hasan’s ‘Raja Parvai’ (king’s sight) was shot in the blind section of my mother’s school. So Indian cinema had already tested these grounds. I recommend ‘Raja Parvai’ for everyone – its a classic in which Kamal plays a blind man. It drew critical reviews and won many laurels in those times. More than anything, for the first time the general public in my state came to take a serious look at ‘disability.’ The fact that some of us could be blind or stone deaf or mute came to gain acceptance.

The same friend who with I went to cinemas today also reads to and writes for the blind routinely. She says the blind think faster than us, they race past and they have to be calmed and slowed down with a soft touch when scribes like her cannot keep up with their torrential pace when it came to giving exams.

I do remember the differently-abled kids were very sensitive and could lose their cool quite easily. The teachers needed to deal with them with an iron hand. That stubborn and angry streak in them is very neatly but subtly underscored in the picture, kudos to the director.

I understand CP (cerebral palsy) is only a disability of one’s motor functions but the brain remains alert. Even so CP cases could be much worse than what is portrayed by Laila in the film. Still an attempt is made and the picture is a lot educational. In a third world nation like India where millions continue to remain illiterate, even creating an awareness in such sensitive issues needs a pat on the back. Its a wonderful service that no institution or government can render whatsoever.

Once when a friend’s teenage son was down in coma with a head injury he lost his mental balance for a few months (temporary insanity to quote my luver Paul Coelho) on waking up. When I went to see him I was put off by the antics of the boy. 2 of us friends had paid him a hospital visit and the boy remained very excited in the ward bed. He also got verbal with us and we did not know what to do. We treated it for the gibberish that it was and hid our embarrassment. We felt sad for the family. Later our friend (the boy’s mother) confided to us, brain injuries could trigger some harmones in humans and make them overwork. We took no  offence but that was when I learned that the differently-abled people could have a heightened sense of sexual awareness/excitement than us normal people.  CP for instance could be the effect of a brain damage sustained due to trauma caused during delivery or from a viral infection that affected the developing foetus. (My friend’s son recovered in 6 months time but his total road to recovery took an year. Now he is back to his usual self and wouldn’t believe if we were to tell him how he acted funny with us aunties!)

So I think its a very bold attempt by the director to highlight this important factor about a CP girl/boy. Society tends to misjudge them otherwise.

A warning: even though the picture carries a ‘U’ certificate (probably issued with the theme in mind), it is not advisable to be watched with kids. Some real hot scenes. The film is not dramatic and adopts a natural flow which is commendable.

The differently-abled, blind and others born unfortunate have burning desires too. They have well-developed bodies which may or may not be deformed. Their harmones will stay pumped up just like for us normal beings which we mostly seem to be unware of or forget or neglect or ignore. To expect them to live like saints is cruel. And they may face criticisms/condemnation right in their homes for their natural physical & biological cravings like yours and mine.

Discrimination against the differently-abled or special consideration for Cerebral Palsy people is unwarranted. Except in severely debilitating cases, there is no need to express sympathy for these great guys.  Like Laila in the film, they have dignity, their sense of privacy deserves to be respected and it should be remembered they are smarter perhaps most of the times than rest of us. They are gifted usually with exceptional artistic skills. All they need from you is fair and just treatment.

India is not disabled-friendly as I observe in our airports/railway stations etc. Now public transport is set to change for the better. The west treats those with special needs with diligent care without hinging on their self-respect. They make sure the differently-abled are comfortable and safe. Even those who give special care like personal care assistance professionals seem to treat the disabled with dignity and respect – like individuals on equal footing which is good.

Up until my 13th year, I was used to treating normal and special children as one and the same. My mother never differentiated that way and we girls grew up not even sympathizing with the unfortunate among us for this reason.

Over years, I fell out with the disabled world – I did not keep up with their news. The film even though if its about CP was like a rude reminder to me. Like how i had started looking at the differently-able as unimportant – or how we all carry on as if they do no exist amidst us. India is home to a record no. of disabled : blind, Cerebral Palsy cases, hearing & speech impaired, Spastic children, the Autistic etc etc all of whom are special.

I used to attend masses & prayer meetings in my mother’s school in my younger years. The sight of hundreds of blind and hearing & speech impaired children gathering in grounds or prayer halls never shocked me or overwhelmed me in that age. But now I guess it would. I have travelled that long in life away from them, something my mother would not have liked.

One thing I want to say about this picture: wonder why the director has to strive to bring everything into the script – all at the same time: cerebral palsy, bisexuality, heightened sexual awareness in CP people, their rare genius talent in music/arts…

I liked the way the picture ended – with Laila coming to terms with herself, happy with herself. Free.

The singh father is a dear 🙂

I took my friend to a restaurant after the film that ran for a mere 1.30 hours (shortest by Indian standards) where she cried her heart out to me. Her husband is deteriorating and its driving her crazy. She works hard, she is sincere yet she is also a woman in the prime with emotions.  She has had a tough life like me – she lost her mother an year before me to kidney failure. So that makes us compassionate to each other. We have followed up with each other all the way and I don’t know what to tell my friend now.

Disability is the cruelest thing ever to happen to anyone. May be some accept the challenge bravely and move on with life – and I salute such a courage, but to tell you frankly I am a coward when it comes to that. My heart goes out to all unfortunate people and their parents in this world. They hold a special place in my heart – something I had forgotten for a while. They are dear to me the way they were dear to my mother.

Disability arising out of special situations or specific conditions in life like a stroke can be overcome perhaps with something like physiotherapy. What I am talking about here is permanent and irreversible disability.

It needs a gentle and compassionate heart to accept it and relate to it. Family needs to be supportive and to a certain extent, sound economic status helps. From care-givers to siblings/family to teaching staff and friends, everyone around these special people need to nurture enormous patience and tolerance first.

My granny used to tell me this: how when my mother was undergoing teachers’ training, Mother Superior walked into her classroom one fine day and picked my mom and said, ‘child, anyone can teach normal kids. but it takes very few to teach the special children. why don’t you accept the gift?’

My mother felt like she was ‘chosen’ and the very next day enrolled for training to teach the hearing & speech impaired. Her school’s mission was not only to educate the kids but also to rehabilitate the differently-abled into routine family/work life. Many could make the successful switch on passing out from the school with some adjustments but there were also always the ‘difficult cases.’

The differently-abled are God’s precious and special creations. This week has been a humbling one for me. Only a couple of days back I was visiting a CP (?) baby (not sure. the baby is 1.5 years old but there is no motor coordination and the young parents are devastated. a further battery of tests needed). Now this picture and my friend’s life keep playing out before my mind’s eye…

Kudos to the team for picking up a bold and educative subject. Need of the hour for Indian masses. Even if the film packs too many ideas at the same time, its served to you with an ease you are comfortable with. The lesbian relationship for onething. The bisexuality for another. Cerebral palsy normalized for the best. Its time we Indians come out of the closet and accept things the way they are.

The differently-abled do not ask for our kindness or sympathy – they only seek our understanding. All they want is to be included in the mainstream – not be sidelined.


Updated May 8, 2015

My MIL told me this morning how I was talking in my sleep last night which was unusual. I have never done that before. She said I sounded very disturbed that she wanted to shake me awake. Then she said I started snoring heavily which was also rarest. I had a dreamless sleep last night.

Oh what an emotionally draining week this has been. I am tired – from seeing the baby, from listening to my friend and from watching the picture. My friend’s husband is an IIT Kanpur alumnus who topped All-India in his CBSE English paper in class 10. They have a beautiful daughter doing her PG. I couldn’t put the baby or the picture or my friend out of my mind ever since. I didn’t know how much it all affected me really until I learned about my sleep-talking.

From → hindi/bollywood

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