The pang of Disability

The Pang of Disability? 

Margarita with a Straw is a 2014 Bollywood movie starring Kalki Kochlien and Sayani Gupta, directed by Shonali Bose. The plot and the texture of the characters is an avante-garde. The film depicts the story of Laila, a girl with cerebral palsy and her journey to find herself. This article discusses society's perception of disability and how this movie turned the leaf. 

Societies have been awkward to talk about disability. The issues of physically and mentally challenged people have been discussed but limited only to their purpose in life, to make them independent, etc. But, what remained untouched people shy from talking about was their romantic feelings and sexual liberation. 

Margarita with a straw, focused on the one aspect of the disability that society doesn't pay attention to, that is, the romantic and sexual feelings of a disabled person. 

In the movie's first scene, Laila is carried by people upstairs since there is no lift facility. The focus of the camera on Laila's facial expression amidst the chatter of people lifting her is a deliberate attempt of the director to let the audience witness her dislike of the situation. 

In one of the scenes, Laila hears sounds and obtains sexual pleasure from the sounds. It shows how her sexual desires were being repressed. She had to hide her libido since she did not have any agency to facilitate her desires. Spaces are absent where she can express her feelings or satisfy her desires. What amused the spectator was Laila's unabashed passion and free-spirited nature. She dresses up and puts makeup up like any other college-going girl. She does not restrict herself from experiencing genuine feelings and constantly searches for a company to express them. She and her friend Dhruv, who is physically challenged, share a kiss. 

She has supportive parents, but when she told her mother that she likes a boy in college, there was an unprecedented response. Dhruv, her friend, rebukes Laila's liking for Nima. He said, "Normal logon ke saath dosti karne se normal nhi ho jayegi." (Making friends with normal people will not make you normal). Dhruv's response presents society's disapproval of a physically and intellectually challenged person and their romantic relationship. 

This did not stop Laila from exploring her sexuality. She readily transgresses the boundary and constantly strives to realise her 'self'. After moving to New York for studies, she is attracted to Khanum, a blind girl. She comes into a relationship with Khannum during her stay. But she still had sex with Jared. The camera focus during the scene on Laila's face shows her disagreeable expression of the encounter. Later on, she admits her infidelity to Khanum, who is heartbroken upon the confession and breaks up with Laila. 

This stirring journey of Laila to not only realise her sexuality but discover her 'self' and her acceptance of herself is inspiring. This movie gave another vantage point to the audience. 

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Samiksha Pradhan

Samiksha Pradhan is a literature student at Delhi University. She is an enthusiast of Indian classical and folk dance. She grabs every opportunity to word her opinion on books, movies and any piece of media.

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