Disclaimer: Spoilers galore
I have an insatiable appetite for trashy and super cringe movies and series. So when the controversy around Bombay Begums came up, of course I had to see how bad could it be.
These fancy-star kids’ starrer dramas have set the bar so low that someones one does come out pleasantly surprised with a few things. In Bombay Begums case, the only good things about the series were Pooja Bhatt’s sarees and Amruta Subhash as Lily.
The story is about women in power and sexual exploitation and is narrated by Shai Irani, Pooja Bhatt’s step daughter, who talks to her dead mother. Pooja Bhatt is CEO of a bank and discusses ‘deals’ and ‘takeovers’ and ‘investment’ as if she is discussing recreational drugs at a Bollywood party.
Shai Irani is a hormonal teen and is just pissed at the world at large, especially her menopausal step mother, Rani (Pooja Bhatt). Then there’s Rani’s stepson Zuravar who has sex with a ‘bar dancer’ Lily and somehow in a drunken driving case, ends up hitting Lily’s son, leaving him crippled. So now Lily decides to blackmail Rani to get her son admitted in school.
Meanwhile, menopause denier Rani tries to ‘save’ the sinking bank and decides to start some sidey social investment fund. Amid all this there’s Fatima (Shahana Goswami, who looks like an upgraded version of Bollywood entertainer Swara Bhaskar), married to her colleague Arijay. Arijay reports to Fatima and the makers make it appear like Arijay is unhappy with more successful wife-boss and wants to have a baby to get her to sit at home. After all, which self-respecting man can see a more successful wife.
So of course, she goes off and has an affair. She has multiple miscarriages, is just perpetually unhappy and looks like she survives on tea made of curdled milk.
Then there’s Ayesha, who just screws up her work but still continues being with the bank because now Lily wants loan for ‘metal factory’ and Rani has promised she’ll get it. Lily, in a bid to live a more ‘respectable’ life, wants to ‘run a factory’. CEO of bank decides to give this prostitute a loan without ANY business plans because her minor son had sex with this woman and then almost killed her son.
AND THEN RAHUL GANDHI CRIBS ABOUT BAD LOANS AND IS PERPETUALLY CONFUSED ABOUT LOAN WAIVER AND LOAN WRITE-OFF. He must be getting his notes on how banking system works from such trashy OTTs.
Coming back, Ayesha is also confused about her sexuality.
But above everything, she is also sexually molested by the guy she was dying to work with. There’s internal complaints and molester dude tries to blackmail and influence the women (Rani and Fatima respectively) to get out of the mess. Now, this is a sophisticated movie with all English-speaking, well-dressed women. While describing her ordeal, Ayesha describes the forced blowjob as ‘maine choos diya‘. I WAS HORRIFIED.
Now, let’s get back to Shai, Rani’s step daughter. School-going 13-year-old girl is curious about periods, smokes cigarettes, has raging hormones and one fine day, decides to snort cocaine. Just usual 13-year-old things.
She approves of Rani’s extra marital affair with Rahul Bose because it is her choice.
Now I’m no moral police but if I’m spending over 5 hours of my life watching this, why aren’t characters better developed or fleshed out? If Rani wants to sleep around, let her, but at least there would be some story, like an unhappy marriage or even annoying step daughter who gyrates her nerves.
It all comes together towards the end with Rani and Fatima calling out that guy’s sexual harassment and getting him arrested and that dude then spills Rani’s secret that her son slept with prostitute and almost killed her son while drunk driving. Fatima confesses cheating on Arijay who leaves her and Ayesha comes out as bisexual and finds a lovely place to live in.
Now, I have several issues with this series, other than the bad script and all women acting like they’re constipated since decades. Like, why doesn’t anyone feel shocked that the underage guy of rich banker CEO goes to a hooker? Or even tell him once that what he did (almost killing that child) was wrong. No one tells that 13-year-old cocaine sniffer that she needs to calm the f*ck down and act her damned age. Or just tell Ayesha that she’s annoying and whiney and perhaps needs therapy. And that Fatima, who’s clearly unhappy in her marriage, just move out. For all her empowerment and successful woman image, she surely wants the guy she married suffer in the loveless marriage.
And Lily. Like, seriously. Where can I get a bank loan for opening ‘factory’ without any business plan?
More than Bombay Begums, it is more like Chewing Gums: Starts with a lot of promise, ends with disgusting, tasteless, mushy, plasticky stuff.