• The Feminist Times

Bombay Begums: A Raw and Unfiltered Depiction of Women

Updated: May 2, 2021

“Some women are born to rule. They bleed for their dreams and expect others to

bleed for them. I am not sure if I want to be that kind of queen. I think I rather

lead the rebellion.”

Netflix India’s original series Bombay Begums is a tale of women and features

every aspect of what women go through in their everyday life. From rising from

the throng to be the best to facing the world that often puts them down. The

begums find solutions to survive in the Bombay city gracefully. It first stirred a

hype for itself when it faced legal issues for projecting teenagers in a negative

light. But the fast pace and tightly put together script with a stellar cast makes it a

must watch series. Directed and written by Alankrita Shrivastava who is also

known for films like Lipstick Under My Burkha and Dolly Kitty Aur Woh

Chamakte Sitaare and just like these films, Bombay Begums too did not

disappoint.

It revolves around the lives of 5 women at different stages in life. The youngest,

on the onset of her youth, Shai, Rani’s step - daughter, who also narrates the

series through her art and in form of having a conversation with her dead mother

and the oldest Rani who just as her name literary translates to is the Queen. From

the onset of puberty to workplace harassment.

The five-woman come from different walks of life and related either directly or

indirectly to The Royal Bank of Bombay. Rani (Pooja Bhatt) the CEO of the

bank who is in the constant battle to save her position and everything she has

yearned for and is also a matriarch figure. Followed by Fatima Warsi (Shahana

Goswami) who is climbing the ladder of success but with personal conflicts. the

youngest in the series is Shai (Aadhya Anand) a thirteen-year-old with mommy

issues, she feels lonely and depicts the phase we’ve all been through of having a

crush and doing our best to create an impression but in her bid to do so she ends

up hurting herself. Ayesha (Plabita Borthakur) a small-town girl who dreams to

be the CEO of The Royal Bank and last but not the least, Lily (Amruta Subhash)

a bar dancer and a single mother who single handedly steals the show and longs

for respect. The woman face misogyny in their everyday lives but come out of it

like queens.

When given a close look, we realize that each begum represents the problems

and dilemmas women face every day at different stages of life. Shai is every

teenage girl, waiting for puberty and for that perfect someone. Ayesha, is

exploring her sexuality but also a victim of workplace harassment, whereas

Fatima, on her ladder to success is left stranded in the middle of her domestic and

professional life. Lily, a bar dancer, bags every opportunity she finds in order to

get a life of respect for both her and her son. Rani, is in constant strife to save

everything she has achieved from a bank teller from Kanpur to the CEO of Royal

Bank.

The series is a raw representation of women doing everything they can to survive

in the Bombay. These women question and judge each other in some parts of the

story but as the series begins to conclude its first season, we see them uniting and

coming together. We also often see that web series or films ignore the biological

changes women go through even if the films are women orientated. Bombay

Begums, decided to change that, we see Rani’s character being on the onset of

menopause though she is in denial.

Bombay Begums is a cocktail of work politics, sexual exploration, the climb of

the ladder of the success, sexual desires, motherhood and workplace harassment.

But, the exploration of many topics in one go, makes it a little too much for the

viewer to handle but has its heart set in the right place. Bombay Begums

perfectly manifests the struggle of women in the cut throat world and how

women are shattering the glass ceiling. The series is a fresh approach in

displaying women on screen and how they face and stand up against the

patriarchy and misogyny every day.


- Aadya Punj

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