ALTBalaji! The little streaming service that could! It’s the streaming branch of Ekta Kapoor’s entertainment empire, and while on satellite TV she is know for inventing the sweet saccharine family drama, on streaming she is all about groundbreaking quality. This show isn’t the best of what she’s done, but it’s pretty darn good! Especially if you like mommy problems dramedies (Big Little Lies, the Bad Moms movies, etc.).
This episode has to line everything up for the rest of the series, in the typical pilot-y way, so it is a bit clunky. But it does the job and gets me interested in enough to want to keep going.
Most important is Karisma, as our heroine. Thank goodness, they lean into Karisma’s kind of fragile and broken vibe, because I don’t want to see her trying to play Top Mommy kind of thing. Karisma just doesn’t work as a powerful woman, she works as someone you want to take care of. Which is what we have here. Karisma is sweet, she is trying to fit in with the rich mothers, her kids only got into this school because her husband’s cousin is the principal. She isn’t dumb, and she isn’t incompetent, but she is a little lost in this world. And she sits there with her big eyes looking at the other mothers and you can see how she just wants to be as confident and perfect as they seem. It worked for me, I wanted her to find her way and be happy.
The main impetus for the plot is the old “all the other mothers expect to much from me, I feel overwhelmed and not good enough, the world of rich women is incredibly competitive” thing. But a small underground part of it is Karisma’s sense of dissatisfaction as a person. Her youngest is 4 and just starting school, her oldest is 13, she is excited to start fresh in Bombay, she dreams of being a model. And she is serious about it, she has found an open casting call (for a mother role in an advertisement) that would work for her. Life gets in the way and she misses out, but instead at the end of the episode she starts a blog about how motherhood can drive you “mental”, “Mentalhood”.
I don’t have much interest in the problems of rich women and mothers feeling pressured to be better. There’s kind of a “buying into the initial premise of the problem” issue for me. The journey is always “of course I deeply DEEPLY care about what other people think” to “oh wait, maybe my children’s happiness and the health of my family is more important than what other people think!” But, see, even that first part doesn’t work for me. Why should you ever care about what the other mothers think and what they are doing and who is the Queen Bee at the school? Rich people problems! Most mothers are just worried about keeping food on the table and a roof over your head!
But I am interested in the little hints of the story of this sweet loving overwhelmed mother who is going to try to find herself and accept new challenges in the new city where she has landed.
Oh, and we get the beginning of the outlines of the mothers at the school who will be our main characters (far more than Karisma’s nice husband Sanjay Suri who brings home pizza for dinner). There is Sandhya Mridul who I was delighted to see again (Rani’s big sister in Saathiya, Ayusha Takia’s sister in Socha Na Tha, and so on). She plays the Queen of the school, dedicated perfect stay at home mother and wife to a very wealthy man. And super nasty to anyone who does not live up to her standards.
And then there’s Shilpa Shukla, the bad girl from Chak De India, playing the powerful super successful working mother. She and Sandhya are hinted to be old friends, but current friendly enemies in the world of the school, both sniping at the other, Shilpa for Sandhya not living up to her full potential and Sandhya for Shilpa having her servants raise her daughter. There’s a couple of other mothers too, but as of right now they don’t have much personality beyond being friendly observers to the whole thing.
So, lots to dig into! What is the backstory between Sandhya and Shilpa? Who are these two other women and what are their lives like? Will Karisma find fulfillment beyond her life as a mother with her new Bombay opportunities? Will the clothes get better?