Review Marathi

Girlz review: Coming-of-age saga about girls and their parents

Release Date: 29 Nov 2019 / Rated: A / 02hr 07min

Cinestaan Rating

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Keyur Seta

The film starring Ankita Lande, Ketaki Narayan and Anvita Phaltankar is very different from what the promos conveyed.

The trailer and songs of director Vishal Devrukhkar’s film Girlz suggested that the film would be a bold saga revolving around three carefree young women who live the wild life in Goa. The poster in which the three were shown stripping before going to the beach reinforced this expectation.

However, the makers have taken the audience for a ride. The film is very different from the promotional material.

To start off, the three main characters Mati (Ankita Lande), Maggie (Ketaki Narayan) and Rumi (Anvita Phaltankar) don’t even know one another until a good 25 minutes of the film have elapsed.

Girlz starts by focusing on Mati’s story. With her father (Amol Deshmukh) being a forest officer, the family has to migrate frequently as per his posting. But that isn’t the biggest problem in Mati’s life. It is her mother (Devika Daftardar) who literally keeps a tab on just about anything she does because of a past incident. Mati is frustrated with her mother, but there is little she can do about it.

But she finds solace among friends at her new college in Kolhapur (shot in reality at Mumbai’s St Xavier’s College), where her father gets posted. Sada (Parth Bhalerao) becomes her friend, philosopher and guide. It is because of his efforts that she gets to go on a solo trip to Goa.

As soon as Mati lands in Goa, she meets Rumi and Maggie. Rumi has just gone through a break-up. She also has to face strange reactions because of her size. To say that Maggie is bold would be an understatement. She believes one should just enjoy life, and thinks nothing of hooking up with different guys. Rumi and Maggie teach Mati how to break her rules and live life carefree. But how long will this last?

Every society changes over time and India is no different. This has given rise to a situation in which youngsters wish to live life a certain way, much to their orthodox parents' chagrin. The unhappiness with the new lifestyle is more pronounced with the parents of young women who are still considered a family’s ‘honour’.

This conflict is sensibly established and treated in the film through the troubled relationship between Mati and her mother. A mother ordering her daughter off social media might appear weird to some, but it does happen. At times, her mother’s thought process is overemphasized in the film. But Daftardar, a natural actress, doesn’t let that affect her performance.

As seen in the promos, the chemistry between Lande, Narayan and Phaltankar is natural and impressive. All three play their characters, which are different from one another, convincingly. Bhalerao succeeds in adding humour whenever he arrives on screen.

Devrukhkar has handled the scenes of the two Goa trips with precision. He has maintained a balance in showing the young women having some wild fun, ensuring that youngsters can watch the film with their parents.

That is why the 'A' certification by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) feels overwrought. Apart from one cuss word, which could have been muted, there is nothing 'adult' in the film. In the past, the CBFC has come down heavily on films that have shown women smoking or drinking and the same thing might have happened here. (There is no information about the cuts on the CBFC website.)

There are some flaws too. We wonder how these collegians are able to spend a bomb on two trips to Goa, more so Mati, who does not earn or take money from her parents. Nor is she shown stealing. But the kind of itinerary they go through requires a large amount of money.

Apart from this, the filmmaker could have gone easy on the preaching because the message comes across naturally through the drama. Mati’s father is shown to be progressive, but his character isn't explored fully.

These flaws do not, however, prevent Girlz being a sensible coming-of-age saga about girls and their parents.

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