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Bombay Begums - A review of Netflix's latest series

Bombay Begums, Alankrita Shrivastav's latest on Netflix is a disappointment to say the least.

Bombay Begums - A review of Netflix's latest series

On a Tuesday night with nothing to do, I switched on Netflix only to discover the new show Bombay Begums. It was trending on Number 1 in India and I decided to do a marathon session - yes I finished the whole thing in one night. 

Bombay Begums follows the lives of five women in various ages and stages of their lives. Each woman is looking for something, fighting something, hiding something. I must admit, that I was incredibly excited to get into this show for two reasons. 

  1. Strong, intelligent female characters aren’t found often in Indian entertainment.
  2. Alankrita Shrivastava is the director and I loved Made In Heaven. 

Thus, I was quite disappointed in the way the series progressed and came to a close. 

Rani (Pooja Bhatt) is a powerful woman who has recently become the CEO of a bank. Her subordinate Fatima (Shahana Goswami) is battling with infertility and an insecure husband while flying high in her career. Ayehsa (Plabita Borthakur) is a young ingenue in the bank, who is also very ambitious and fighting off the small town pressures of marriage. Lily (Amruta Subhash) is a sex worker fighting for respect and dignity and last, we have Shai, (Aadhya Anand) a young girl of thirteen, struggling with the onset of puberty.

Shai is our narrator. Her voice is supposed to be naive and yet profound in it’s simplicity. But the writing of her lines is incredibly weak. Age old stereotypes invoking Adam and Eve and other feminist cliches are presented that actually drive the viewer to incredulity rather than revelation. 

While the show deals with progressive themes like - sexual harassment, periods, body dysmorphia, adultery, teenage drug abuse, lesbianism - the treatment of all these issues is done in a taboo way. One would hope that the writers can invent a plot line other than partners cheating on one another to drive the story forward. But when 4 out of the five main leads are either cheating or being cheated on - the scandal becomes dull. Even the sexual harassment story plays out in an obvious yet unbelievable manner.

The only breath of fresh air in the show was Subhash. The fierceness in her eyes to protect her son, her fight for respect, love and her protectiveness of her son all shrouded in her loose morals made her a joy to watch. Lily was the only character in the show worth rooting for, and every time her storyline came on screen, I put away my cell phone to give the show my complete attention. 

In all, if you’re bored and wondering what to watch, I’d recommend going a different direction. This show will have moments where you’ll think it’s good, but ultimately, the climax will leave you with a sigh of disappointment. 

Series Rating: 1/5