Margarita with a Straw

Margarita with a Straw
Margarita, with a Straw - poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Shonali Bose
Produced by Shonali Bose
Viacom 18 Motion Pictures
Written by Shonali Bose
Nilesh Maniyar
Starring Kalki Koechlin
Revathi
Sayani Gupta
William Moseley
Music by Mikey McCleary
Cinematography Anne Misawa
Edited by Monisha Baldawa
Production
company
Viacom 18 Motion Pictures
Release date
  • 8 September 2014 (2014-09-08) ( Toronto)
  • 17 April 2015 (2015-04-17) (India)
Running time
100 minutes
Country India
Language Hindi
English
Budget 65 million
Box office 74 million

Margarita with a Straw is a 2014, Indian drama film directed by Shonali Bose. It stars Kalki Koechlin as Laila, a teenager with cerebral palsy who moves from New Delhi to Greenwich village for her undergraduate education and comes of age following her complex relationship with a blind girl, played by Sayani Gupta. Produced by Bose in partnership with Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, the film was co written by Bose and Nilesh Maniyar and deals with the themes of an inclusive environment, self-acceptance, and human sexuality. Margarita with a Straw had Revathi and William Moseley play supporting roles.

In January 2011, Shonali Bose conceived the idea for the film script during a causal conversation with Malini Chib—her cousin and a disability rights activist—about the latter's desire to have a normal sex life. Bose wrote the first draft of the script with Chib serving as the inspiration for the central character. Although she won a Sundance Mahindra Global Filmmaker Award for the initial draft, Bose later modified the script to reflect her own perspective, incorporating into the narrative several of her personal experiences. She completed the screenplay with co-writer Nilesh Maniyar and the advisory council of the Sundance Institute.

Pre-production work began when Kalki Koechlin was cast in the role of Laila; Bose had auditioned actors with cerebral palsy for the role but was unable to come up with desirable results. Koechlin underwent a six month training programme to adapt to the physical movement and speech patterns of the people with cerebral palsy. Filming for the project took place in Delhi and New York in 2013, with Anne Misawa working as the director of photography. The film was selected for the National Film Development Corporation of India's Work-in-Progress Lab initiative during post production, which was completed in the latter half of 2013. The soundtrack for the film was composed by Mickey McCleary.

Margarita with a Straw had its world premiere at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. The film garnered positive reviews at such international film festivals as the Tallinn Black Nights; the BFI London; the Vesoul Festival of Asian Cinema; and the Galway Film Fleadh, among others. The film released theatrically in India on April 17, 2015, to critical acclaim. Commentators praised most aspects of the production, with particular emphasis on Koechlin's performance and Bose's direction. The duo garnered several accolades including the Screen Award for Best Actress and the National Film Award (Jury) (both for Koechlin), and the NETPAC Award at Toronto (for Bose). The film did moderately well at the box office grossing over 74 million against a production budget of 65 million.

Plot

Laila (Koechlin) is a teenager with cerebral palsy, studying at Delhi University. She is an aspiring writer and also composes music for an indie band at the university. Laila develops feelings for the lead singer, but is heartbroken when she is rejected. Moving on from the experience, Laila is overjoyed to receive a scholarship for a semester's study at New York University. Despite her father's reservations, she moves to Greenwich village, Manhattan with her orthodox Maharashtrian mother Shubhangini (Revathi).

Laila meets an attractive young man named Jared (Moseley), who is assigned to help her in the creative writing class. She also meets a young activist, Khanum (Gupta), a blind girl of Pakistani Bangladeshi descent, whom she falls in love with. Laila is enamoured by Khanum's fiercely independent personality and her positive perspective towards her own disability. The two spend most of their time together, filling in as each other's caregivers. Laila develops a confusion about her sexual orientation as she is attracted to men—Jared in particular—while being in a serious relationship with Khanum. She has sex with Jared on one occasion, only to regret it immediately. Laila, however, does not tell Khanum about this encounter. Oblivious to her daughter's relationship with Khanum, Laila's mother invites her to Delhi to spend the winter vacation with the family.

Laila ultimately finds the courage to tell her mother about her sexuality and her relationship with Khanum, both of which her mother strongly disapproves of. Laila also confesses to Khanum that she had sex with Jared and asks for her forgiveness. Feeling betrayed by Laila, however, Khanum breaks up with her and leaves for New York. Laila's mother is diagnosed with advanced colon cancer which has relapsed after previous treatments. Laila and her mother move past their differences while Laila tends to her mother at the hospital. The two eventually reconcile shortly before Shubhangini's death. Laila plays a recorded speech at her mother's funeral telling how much she loved her and how she was the only one who ever understood her. She is later seen enjoying a day in the country, all by herself.