The Kalki Koechlin-starrer “Margarita with a Straw” has been taking India by storm ever since its premiere on April 17. However, those who have been following the movie know that it had already impressed international audiences when it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2014.
From writer/director Shonali Bose, the creator of the moving 2005 film “Amu,” comes “Margarita with a Straw” the story of Laila, a young woman with cerebral palsy.
While the muscular weakness caused by her disorder has left her wheelchair-bound, Laila’s cerebral palsy does not otherwise hold her back from the hopes and dreams that all young adults carry with them. After heartbreak at Delhi University, Laila’s story takes an adventurous turn when she gets accepted to New York University. And thus ensues Laila’s journey of self-discovery.
Showered with love and support from her doting Aai (played by veteran actress Revathi), Laila’s experiences in New York City lead her to Khanum (Sayani Gupta). Khanum is a blind young woman of Pakistani-Bangladeshi heritage who shows Laila a world of love that she never had imagined could be experienced with another woman.
The film delicately balances Laila’s discovery of her sexual identity with the inner turmoil she feels in deceiving her family as to the truth behind her relationship with Khanum. Both Laila and Khanum find their way back to Delhi to visit Laila’s parents, and during this visit, Laila decides to tell her mom the truth, while Aai gives Laila a shocking revelation of her own.
As for the rest of the kahaani, keep your eyes peeled for a way to catch “Margarita with a Straw” as soon as you can.
In addition to the unique storyline, the movie is filled with amazing performances. While Revathi and Sayani Gupta give memorable performances as two key players in Laila’s life, Koechlin steals every scene. The filmmakers reportedly knew she would be right for this role after seeing her smile, and they were clearly on point with their assessment.
The strength of personal relationships and the importance of self-discovery form the core of this wonderfully inspiring movie. At long last, a well-made movie challenges Indians to look beyond their definitions of “normal.”
Simultaneously heart-warming and heart-wrenching, “Margarita with a Straw” left the entire audience with tears in their eyes. This is one movie that you do not want to miss, and rather, is a movie that you need to see. The film will be shown at the New York Indian Film Festival on May 4 with the possibility of a wider U.S. release in the near future.