Mentalhood Episode 1: Karisma is the New Girl in School

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.

All Episodes Of Karisma Kapoor's Mentalhood Out Now - Filmibeat

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.

Sandhya Mridul makes a comeback with Ekta Kapoor's series ...

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.

Mentalhood (2020-)

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?

16 thoughts on “Mentalhood Episode 1: Karisma is the New Girl in School

  1. I didn’t think we could get Altbalaji in the US for some odd reason so I am so happy that you posted! Watching first episode now while I fold endless clothes as I’ve run out of Family Karma episodes until tomorrow. I love Karisma and (full disclosure) my son goes to a private school where we are among the normal families…so this show gets me. To be fair, our school is known for (that’s why we chose it) being the most normal down to earth of the independent schools…so very few assholes. But there are a few. This setup is a little more like the preschool Hux attended where the director was a superstar in the world of constructivist education…and it was amazing but some of the parents were Hollywood behind the scenes as#*%^*£%. Can’t really avoid that even in public school here. Anywho…this is a show that likely will make me laugh at some people I know…and be grateful that we do NOT operate in a hyper competitive environment at our school. I visited another school while we were doing Kinder tours and was on a tour with Kate Hudson who came with her assistant. Yuck. Anyway my fave moment so far is Karisma saying it was a condition of moving that her kids could go the the same school as “Aryan Khanna’s kids.” Immediate ‘Fan’ film Easter egg! So now we can see inside what DAIS is like…

    Liked by 1 person

    • YES! I also thought ALTBalaji was not available! And I am so happy to discover that it is. And so cheap! I’m not going to pay $15 a month for a handful of high quality original content, but it’s like $2 a month which is soooooooooooo worth it.

      Love the Aryan Khanna references! He comes up again in the second episode. If the season finale has an SRK cameo, I am going to DIE. And it’s clearly supposed to be SRK, and the Ambani school, right? It’s got that feel of fancy rich new school, not shabby old school. I think all of our characters are a bit new money too? Maybe not Sandhya’s husband’s family, but everyone else. Not the types to relax and go “Bombay Scottish was good enough for me and my father and his father and his father, don’t care what anyone else thinks”, but the types to go “we’ve got to make connections, look good, stay on top”.

      And I really like Karisma! She isn’t playing it comic, or confident, but just sort of average and trying and human. It’s a great center for these over the top people around her.

      Great cast in general, all these women who I’ve seen in one great role and then they kind of disappeared. Love to see them getting jobs, especially in middle age.

      My Dad went to The Best High School in Illinois, which was (needless to say) a very stressful and unfun place to go to school. But it has left me with an inherited healthy disinterest in status schools. This episode tells us that Karisma wanted the school not for all the status and connections but because she is a fangirl, which is totally relatable to me of course. And the next episode I am watching now and gives some idea of what the other mothers might get out of it, besides the status. I hope the series continues that way, asking the real reasons mothers obsess over these schools.

      On Sat, Apr 4, 2020 at 7:04 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I will die alongside you. Although maybe we’re going to see a Gauri cameo…would fit the mom-genre. I can see her doing a tiny part like that. This is definitely the Ambani school, totally fits the profile.

        I am so happy too to see these 40+ actresses in nice roles. This is kinda what you had said a while back about why not have SRK move into TV…hang time w AbRam, come home every night.

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        • Ooo, Gauri would be so fun! Even just from a distance as they all stand in awe at the True Queen of the school.

          I was really happy when Karisma announced this series, she tried to return to films and it didn’t work, but television is a great place for her kind of subtle charisma, and she can keep regular hours and be home at night with her kids.

          On Sat, Apr 4, 2020 at 7:53 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Really enjoyed the first episode! Sex and the City blog style sharing her real life experience. The struggle is real…very much the mom expery.

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    • I am looking forward to getting more background on our central 5 Moms. Did any of them come from old money and fall down in status and now are crawling their way back up? Did any of them come from real poverty and are holding on tight to what they have gotten?

      On Sat, Apr 4, 2020 at 7:53 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Going to be very interesting for me too! Only finished episode 1 but also
        Loving the AJo character a la KJo. I’d be Yash and Roohi end up going to Kinder anywhere else in a few years.

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  2. I don’t know if we can get it here, but once the series is finished I might consider getting a subscription only for this for a month if it’s good enough. I’m so happy Karisma is getting something and it seems to be pretty quality.

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    • But there’s two seasons! I don’t know if I can handle that angst!

      On Sun, Apr 5, 2020 at 8:06 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • There is also a series inspired by ‘Little Women’ – Haq Se. After reading the details I’m not sure if it’s good for now, but one of the episodes is called ‘Blogs for Dogs’ and I think it’s adorable 😉

        And also Romil and Jugal. I don’t remember who recommends it frequently, but it really looks good and it’s only 10 episodes.

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        • Thank you for reminding me! Couldn’t remember the title of Romil and Jugal. Mentalhood is only 10 eps, so I’ll be done with it in 10 days, ready to start something new.

          ALTBalaji should totally be paying me, but I’m going to be encouraging everyone to watch their serieses. Looks like they have the fun light fluffy stuff I am craving.

          On Sun, Apr 5, 2020 at 8:21 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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