Margarita, with a Straw

DIRECTORS: Shonali Bose, Nilesh Maniyar

Expected to attend: Directors Nilesh Maniyar, Shonali Bose

For her second film, Delhi-based director Shonali Bose was inspired by her cousin Malini, a super-achiever with cerebral palsy. When asked what she wanted for her 40th birthday, Malini said she wanted to have sex. This was a revelation for Bose, who went on to write the story of Laila, a talented composer-songwriter who views her cerebral palsy as a minor hurdle to overcome as she strives to fulfill all the typical desires of an ambitious and spirited young woman. When a fellow musician at Delhi University breaks her heart, Laila makes the difficult decision to leave her affectionate family and enter a writing program at NYU. During an Occupy Wall Street demonstration, Laila escapes from tear gas with Khanum, a beautiful Bangladeshi-American woman (who is visually impaired and a Muslim), and their flirtation quickly blossoms into a full-on affair. But what will happen when Laila brings her new love home to India, where homosexuality is still illegal by legislation, and where such a romance among the differently abled is especially taboo?

Bose’s script won the Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab prize for its frank but delicate command of multiple intersecting issues and identities. Under Bose’s direction, Laila’s challenges seem totally natural, like any of the varied and unexpected tests thrown at people who pursue their dreams. Desiring and pleasing another, fully participating in life with all its joys, wackiness, and losses—this heroine shows how it can be done, with a straw.

— Frako Loden

In English, Hindi with English subtitles.

AT&T Audience Award Text Voting Code: F122

Co-presented by:
Center for Asian American Media
Creative Growth Art Center
3rd I South Asian Film Festival

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