By Neeraj Nanda
MELBOURNE, 23 March 2021: The quote in the heading is uttered by one of the five women (Begums) who form the core of the six episodes serial streaming now on Netflix. The canvas is Mumbai (Bombay) with things happening around a major private bank and these five ‘Begums’ battling (or, struggling) blues in real life despite being high and well connected on the corporate ladder.
I remember watching Director Alankrita Srivastava’s ‘Lipstick Under the Burka’ at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM), a black comedy showing the secret lives of four women searching for freedom. Many sitting with me in the cinema hall were shaken as the women free themselves breaking barriers. It was a bit too much for a patriarchal mindset. Bombay Begum’s women also open up to claim their freedom but the perils are laced with tough traditional responses. No doubt, it’s a question of ‘survival’.
The story revolves around Rani (Pooja Bhatt) the bank CEO, Fatima working under her, Lily a former bar dancer, and Ayesha, in Mumbai from a small town. Every episode (50 minutes plus) step by step explores situations in urban India where freedom confronts tradition and actions confront hurdles. It speaks for itself with a brilliant expose of a decadent patriarchal society. With the powerful acting talent on display, the theme of the series shines.
A woman on top in the corporate world grapples with emotional issues in her family, a migrant woman in the metropolis opens up in life but struggles, a childless married woman in peril, and a woman who never fails to dream. Alankrita’s women have a steely resolve in a life that is not black and white. It gives a positive message in a rather gloomy society. Well done, Alankrita and team.
Directors – Alankrita Srivastava & Bornila Chatterjee; Starring Pooja BHatt (Rani), Shahana Gowsami (Fatima), Amruta Subhash (Lily), Plabita Borthakur (Ayesha), Asdhya Anand (Shaahi), Manish Chaudhary, Vivek Gomber, Dinesh Husain, Imssduddin Shah, Siya Mahajan, Sachin Chaudhary, etc and the series is produced by the Los Angles-based Chernin Entertainment and Endemol Shine Group.