5 Thoughts I Had About Netflix’s ‘Bombay Begums’ Trailer: Pooja Bhatt And The Begums Exude Power And We’re So Ready
“Stories of women, for women and by women” is a phrase I am not going to tire of hearing for a long time. It’s like someone’s unclogged the pipes and brilliant content is finally starting to flow through. After giving us Lipstick Under My Burkha and Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare, which dealt primarily with female sexual liberation, and Made In Heaven too, screenwriter and director Alankrita Shrivastava gives us a new show to get excited about. Netflix today, dropped the trailer for Bombay Begums, starring Pooja Bhatt, Shahana Goswami, Amruta Subhash, Plabita Borthakur, Aadhya Anand, Danish Husain, Rahul Bose, Vivek Gomber, Imaad Shah and Nauheed Cyrusi.
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Shrivastava is joined by Bornila Chatterjee as co-director on the show, which according to its official synopsis, “follows the lives of five women living and hustling in Mumbai, the city of dreams, as they break societal shackles and glass ceilings to conquer love, careers & relationships by standing up for each other.”
Coloured me intrigued, because not only is that quite a powerful cast they’ve got there, but also the people associated with it have a decent track record of making statements with their stories. It’s the least to say that I am excited for this series!
Here are five thoughts that I had about the Bombay Begums trailer:
1. Pooja Bhatt makes her powerful presence felt, and she looks every part the titular begum!
There’s no way you watch the trailer and not want to talk about the absolute commanding presence of Pooja Bhatt on screen. I’ve felt similar power come off Dimple Kapadia in Tenet and Tandav, where even by turning their heads or fixing you with a glance, they captivate your attention.
I remember my surname-sake for her powerful act in Zakhm the most. But Pooja Bhatt has always been nothing like your quintessential Bollywood heroine, and I am excited to see how much of that she channels in this comeback stint of hers.
2. That cast—Amruta Subhash, Shahana Goswami, Vivek Gomber, Rahul Bose—compels you to set high expectations.
Yay that we get to see Shahana Goswami and Vivek Gomber pair up again, after A Suitable Boy! I already appreciate the former, but Gomber I’ve recently become fond of, for the sheer range he displayed from Suitable Boy to Sir — Is Love Enough! There’s quite the range here to. We’ve got the measured restraint of Rahul Bose and Imaad Shah, the dramatic and impassioned act of Amruta Subhash, and of course, the ever reliable Manish Chaudhary who must once again be playing the cocky, rich man. I haven’t seen much of Aadhya Anand and Plabita Borthakur, so I hope to be pleasantly surprised.
But the fact of the matter is, having a cast full of great acting talent means the audience expectation is set high. Higher, perhaps, considering the makers of the series.
3. Keeping my fingers crossed that we don’t find any subconscious sexism embedded in it.
The thing with a lot of movies and shows that try to depict strong, powerful, independent modern women is that even they fall prey to sexist stereotypes. We already know that the most powerful of them all, Rani, is having an extra-marital affair. Shahana’s character looks like someone who prioritises her career over having a baby and that’s evidently not going to go down so well with her husband. Pretty sure some of these begums smoke, drink, and basically check boxes of what society thinks makes a woman modern. Similarly, the men are either too antagonistic or too submissive, and never equals.
I hope that the show manages to subvert those subconscious sexist tropes, and gives us a story whose impact doesn’t get hampered by it.
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4. Could be the all-informing trailer but I am worried that we’ve “seen this before”.
I feel like these days, trailers reveal too much about the story, with the initial curiosity about the story evaporating the moment you’ve seen the trailer. And now, because of that, I feel like this is a story of women hustling that I’ve seen before. I can’t give you exact titles from whence I feel this déjà vu coming. But the whole powerful female CEO having an affair; poor but headstrong woman selling her body to put her child through school; young, aspiring woman countering a demand for sexual favours in exchange for career advancement; careerwoman faced with the choice between promotion and procreation….. These feel like stories which, in bits and pieces, we’ve seen in other movies and shows.
I still think that Bombay Begums, even if it does take these familiar character arcs, can still tell a compelling story. And I hope that’s the case. Fingers crossed.
5. How long before trolls get their feelings hurt over it being ‘Bombay’ and not ‘Mumbai’?
No, don’t laugh, this is a legit concern. I’ve lived in Mumbai all my life, under different political regimes. And the touchiness of this has never lessened. It’s ridiculous, but it is a possibility!
Bombay Begums will release on Netflix on International Women’s Day, i.e. March 8, 2021.