Starring: Kalki Koechlin, Revathi, Sayani Gupta
Directed by Shonali Bose
Early on in the film, protagonist Laila (Kalki) shows her middle finger to the judges of a competition in which a song written and composed by her is given an award not because of its worth but because she happens to be differently abled. Her defiance sets a heart-warming tone. The gaze on the world of a girl with cerebral palsy is not that of condescension. It’s as normal as it can get. Laila’s story could be that of any teen—having fun, experimenting with sex, rebelling against parents. The difficulties of moving around are negotiated like a routine rather than as insuperable impediments. The rhythms of friendships, of her close-knit Marathi-Sikh family are captured delicately. So are jealousies of a special friend who ticks her off for seeking normalcy through friendship with ‘normal’ people. Moments stand out, especially between mom-daughter, Revathi and Kalki, both putting up perceptive, persuasive performances. MWAS works as it is a celebration of life. It’s towards the end that the unfussy narrative takes a filmi turn, aiming at the tearducts. The film tends to veer towards the righteousness it had so admirably demolished. Why the overt manipulation after a subtle celebration of a special life?