Hindi Features

Margarita With A Straw: A Drink With A Twist

When you see the lead character of Margarita With A Straw for the first time, she is travelling with her family in an old van, driven by her no-nonsense mother Shubhangi (Revathi), along with her very jovial father (Kuljeet Singh) and brother. Just as you are about to conclude that everything is perfect about this family, you realise that Laila (a stupendous Kalki) is wheelchair bound, thanks to cerebral palsy. However, the scene – the people, their behaviour – looks very normal.

Shonali Bose’s Margarita with a straw is a brilliant, sensible take on the life, relationships and desires of the 19-year-old Laila – Her transition from a confused, unsettled teenager to a matured youngster who takes pride in being who she is.


Laila is enthusiastic, artistic and intelligent. She’s blessed with the most wonderful family anyone can ask for.  Although Shubhangi wants Laila to chase her dreams and conquer heights, she, like the other people around Laila, fails to understand that her daughter has sexual desires and yearnings like any other girl of her age.

Almost all the characters in the film are unconventional – Laila’s family head isn’t her dad, but her ‘rockstar’ aai who does everything from driving the family’s old van to having the final word in every crucial issue. Her best friend is a paraplegic – Dhruv, a happy-go-lucky guy who reminds her that ‘befriending normal people doesn’t make her normal’. Laila has a crush on a college band singer Nima who is from Assam.

Not a single scene attempts to evoke sympathy for Laila.  Neither Laila nor Dhruv ask for kindness. Laila often behaves selfish and headstrong. After sharing an intimate moment with Dhruv, she dumps him casually as she wants to ‘explore’ more. Have we seen such a female protagonist in our films before? A female lead who goes to her college store to buy vibrator?  Not really.

In London, she falls in love with beautiful, but blind Khanum, an activist of Pakistan-Bangladesh descend to ward off her loneliness and complexes. But later, she scathes Khanum too. What separates Laila from Dhruv and Khanum is that while she is trying to become someone she isn’t, they have already come to terms with the reality.

Kalki breathes life into Laila – Her flawed accent, hearty laughs, inhibitions, anger … Kalki just nails it to perfection. Also, she shares a brilliant chemistry with Sayani Gupta, who plays the exotic Khanum.


Like Queen, this film too compares India with the West. Nima snubs Laila’s sexual advances. But Jared, Laila’s classmate in London, gladly makes love to her. Nancy, Laila’s carer in London, acknowledges Laila’s relationship with Khanum casually, without batting an eyelid. But Dhruv warns her of consequences. All is better in the West, so say our film makers.

Margarita With A Straw stands out for a lot of things – The outstanding performances by the lead actors, a sensitive story which is neither preachy nor dramatic, and a bunch of technicians who have churned out their best works. The background music by Mickey McCleary  is in perfect sync with the film. It is subtle and doesn’t try to dominate even the most emotional scenes. Anne Misawa’s camera movements spends ample time on Laila’s face to capture her trying to hide her pains and embarrassments. It’s sensuous and sensible.

A must-watch flick !