Margarita With A Straw (2015) *MQ*

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Shubhangini (Revathy)’s life revolves around her son Monu (Malhar Khushu), husband Baljit (Kuljeet Singh) and her wheelchair bound daughter Laila (Kalki Koechlin), who suffers from cerebral palsy. However, Laila, a strong headed girl, doesn’t let that ‘handicap’ word obstruct her from penning soul stirring lyrics for her rock band.

Laila yearns to be counted amongst the ‘normal’ people and lands up dumping her boyfriend Dhruv (Hussain Dalal) because he is handicapped and even she shows her middle finger to the judges of a rock show amidst a huge audience because they decide to give her band the first prize, only because, the lyrics were written by a ‘handicapped person’. As time passes by, Laila gradually falls in love with one of her band member Nima (Tenzing Dalha) but when he doesn’t reciprocate her feelings, her world comes crashing down. Life moves on as Laila decides to start afresh when she shifts with her mother for her creative writing course at NYU.

Love blossoms yet again for Laila, who starts developing feelings for her classmate Jared (William Moseley), with whom she eventually gets physical. However, there comes a twist, when her blind room partner Khanum (Sayani Gupta) confesses that she is gay and that she loves her immensely. Reluctant at first, Laila also gradually starts developing a liking for Khanum and they both land up getting intimate with each other. That’s when Laila realizes that she is bisexual, who is torn between the battle of two sexes and sexual preferences.

Gathering all the courage and confidence, she confesses to her mother about her sexual orientations. Life however gets topsy-turvy for Laila when she discovers a startling truth about her mother. Does Shubhangini accept her daughter’s sexual orientation and cope up with the same, what is the truth about Shubhangini that shocks Laila terribly, does Laila ultimately get settled with Khanum, Jared or Dhruv or a ‘different’ person altogether… is what forms the rest of the film.

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.

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