Alankrita Shrivastava’s latest project Bombay Begums made its way to Netflix today. The show stars Pooja Bhatt, Shahana Goswami, Amruta Subhash, Plabita Borthakur, and Aadhya Anand in key roles. It follows the lives of four women and a teenaged girl in Mumbai and their struggles with the rat race. If you’re planning on watching the six-episode show, we suggest you read this review first to know what to expect.
A tale of four women in a power struggle against life and society
Rani Irani (Pooja), Fatima Warsi (Shahana), and Ayesha Agarwal (Plabita) work together at the Royal Bank of Bombay. The three are extremely driven women who are struggling to find a balance in their lives. While Rani is the newly appointed CEO of RBB, she has her battles to fight at home when it comes to acceptance from her stepchildren. On the professional front, Fatima is on the verge of promotion but is also struggling with IVF treatment for the fifth time in her personal life. Ayesha, a newbie, who was fired for negligence, somehow manages to get a second chance when she is re-hired. However, on the personal front, her life is in shambles with homelessness and sleeping on couches of different friends. Moreover, she finds herself attracted to a female jazz singer that begins her journey with understanding her own sexuality.
Lily or Lakshmi Gondhali (Amruta), a former bar dancer turned sex worker, now wants to leave that life behind for respect for herself as well as her 11-year-old son. Shai Irani (Aadhya) is Rani’s teenaged stepdaughter who can’t wait for the start of her ‘womanhood’. She is also the narrator and commentator of the story.
A lot of promise with a few misfired shots
When the teaser of the show first dropped, it was quick to get the buzz rolling. The title ‘Bombay Begums‘ and the plotline seemed intriguing and something that would keep the audience glued to the screen. Needless to say, the show delivers well when it comes to star power and brilliant talent. However, the one thing that proves to be a major drawback is the snail speed of storytelling. The episodes seem unnecessarily dragged with filler scenes in the form of physical intimacy or jazz performances. At one point you almost want to skip the scenes to get to the main bit.
As a story of womanhood, battles against a gender-biased industry, and women supporting women, Alankrita Shrivastava somewhat manages to show parts of it but fails to hit the nail at the right spot. For instance, having a 13-year-old girl narrate stories full of complexities while at the same time giving her commentary on it somehow feels unnatural and misplaced. In another instance, Rani, a feminist fighting for her spot in the male-dominated world, gets visibly perturbed when asked by Fatima if she’s going through menopause.
Bombay Begums: Final thoughts
All in all, Bombay Begums comes with a lot of promise but with its own bag of minor flaws. For those following Alankrita Shrivastava’s projects, it is definitely a positive release after the disastrous Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare.
Bombay Begums is streaming on Netflix.
Note: Watch out for the titles of all episodes that take after famous literature!