MARGARITA WITH A STRAW is a film about a paraplegic girl and her sexuality played by Kalki Koechlin. It’s a Hindi film with an English title. Aamir Khan unveiled the trailer of the film on 4th March 2015 in a suburban multiplex in Mumbai in the presence of its cast and crew including Shonali Bose, Kalki Koechlin, Sayani Gupta, lyricist Prasoon Joshi, and others.
Aamir Khan, according to the film’s director Shonali Bose, was the right person with perfect credentials to do the honors. He had watched the film on his wife Kiran Rao’s recommendations and was so moved by it that he agreed to present and promote it.
The film has already done the festival circuit and has received accolades at various film festivals around the world. It depicts the life of an adult bisexual paraplegic girl and her sexual urges and how her family and friends come to terms with it. The film’s director feels that even Class VIII students should be allowed access to the film and it should get UA certificate (equivalent to Parental Guidance ‘PG’ rating) from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). However, the film’s producer feels that even an A certificate will be fine if the film is allowed to be screened as it is.
That should not be a problem if we go by the example of BADLAPUR. The film has a sodomy scene and got an A certificate from CBFC and is tom-tommed as the first ADULT hit of the year with 45 crores box office haul within a week of its release. It seems the A certificate helps a film do well commercially.
After the trailer of the film was launched, the film’s cast, its director Shonali Bose, and Aamir Khan answered the questions of the media. Most of the questions were about the issue of censorship and if the film would pass muster with the CBFC. Aamir Khan felt that there was no need to preempt the process and presume that the film would face ‘censorship’ problems. He feels that after the Board watches the film and gives its verdict and in case it is not favorable, one can always seek redressal in the court of law. He said that ‘freedom of expression’ was very important in a democracy and it should not be curtailed.
The director Shonali Bose concurred with the numero uno Bollywood star and cautioned the media that the film is not merely about the sexuality of a differently-abled woman. It’s just one aspect of the life of her protagonist. That’s contrary to her views expressed in interviews around the time the film was showcased in Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). She, while admitting to be a bisexual, had expressed the hope that her film ‘contributes towards the debate over Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which forbids homosexual sex, and eventually sexual legitimacy for homosexuals, bisexuals and lesbians’. By the way Section 377 of IPC is more about sodomy and not about homosexuality. Interestingly, there is no law in the IPC that expressly prohibits or proscribes ‘lesbian’ sex.
MARAGARITA WITH A STRAW is produced by Viacom18 Motion Pictures, Jakhotia Group, Ishan Talkies and ADAPT, and apart from Kalki, stars Revathy, William Moseley (THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA) and the talented new face Sayani Gupta. The movie will be releasing all over India on April 17, 2015.
(Rajesh Kumar Singh is Editorial Consultant for Festivals and Markets for BollywoodTrade.com. He is a filmmaker, critic and market analyst)