There are many things going for Sharmajee Ki Beti, a title that makes you smile, because you are bound to ask which one: is it the antsy teen Shruti (Vanshika Taparia) who is all doom and gloom because of her non-existent periods and bra size, or her inseparable pal-cum-school -mate Gurveen (Arista Mehta) who is confused about which way she swings, or their respective mums, busy working woman Jyoti (Sakshi Tanwar), and bored housewife Kiran (Divya Dutta), or career girl Tanvi (Saiyami Kher) who is a crack state-level cricketer?

Tahira Kashyap’s debut feature revolves around all these Sharmajee ki betis, working through problems and conflicts, and reaching resolutions. It’s all very likeable even if predictable, because this is not the kind of film that’s going to leave any of its characters hanging or desolate: its feel-goodness is rooted in the everyday, and its dailiness makes it very ‘gharelu’ and relatable, even when you know what’s coming a mile off, and even when you want it to break out of its flat framing.

It’s high point is Shruti, a teenager you may not have seen in Hindi movies in the way she mouths off at her mother about feeling neglected, and how she is so worried that she’s not ‘normal’ because she hasn’t started her ‘monthlies’ ‘ yet, when her entire class has entered the zone. It’s really refreshing that this conversation (yes, you can hear the ‘V’ for vagina word loud and clear) is out in the open, given that there’s still so much shame and secrecy attached to it.

Roaming around with a red patch on your skirt just to declare you are in the club feels a bit of a stretch, though, as do some of the lines. In a few places, you can see the Indian kids as teen-templates of Hollywood movies, but they keep it mostly real.

Taparia does an excellent job of being a mouthy teenager, as does Mehta as her best friend, as they share tiffin time and confidences about attraction and hormones and appearances. The older ladies are good too, especially Divya Dutta who finally gets to do more than just bring up the rear: here, her Patiala-wali-Kiran-finding-her-feet-in-busy-Mumbai, saddled with an inattentive husband ( Pravin Dabas), has real heft.

Festive offer

It’s always nice watching Sakshi Tanwar because she is such a natural. Here she is banging the gong for women who like working not just because it keeps the home fires burning, but because they find self worth in the process. It’s an important point, raised in households around the country when taunting ‘kaam-kaaji auratein’ who have ‘no time for their families’. The film also points out the importance of supportive spouses: the affable Sharib Hashmi is around to lend a hand.

Saiyami Kher’s ambitious cricketer feels like an extension of her role in ‘Ghoomer’. As she trains hard and eats hearty, her struggling-for-a-break-actor-boyfriend is conflicted, and I like that he has to figure out the way forward by himself, because she is happy in her space, and would be happy to have him, as long as he celebrates her equally.

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So yes, life lessons are learned. Periods come when they come. A girl can like a girl. Housie or tambola, same difference. Marriages can flounder but it’s not the end of the world. Some lines feel like dialogues inserted to score points, as do a few situations. But overall, the film gives us women talking, walking, claiming their space.

Sharmajee Ki Beti movie cast: Divya Dutta, Sakshi Tanwar, Saiyami Kher, Vanshika Taparia, Arista Mehta, Sharib Hashmi, Pravin Dabas, Ravjit Singh, Sushant Ghadge
Sharmajee Ki Beti movie director: Tahira Kashyap
Sharmajee Ki Beti movie rating: 2.5 stars