BOTTOM LINE: An Exaggerated yet Enjoyable Take on Motherhood
|Platform: ALTBalaji||Genre: Drama|
What Is the Story About?
Mentalhood mirrors the travails of several modern-day parents in urbane India while grooming their kids and their ideals right. The story is narrated through Meira, a mother to three kids who gave up on her modelling interests to raise a family. Shifting from Kanpur to Mumbai for the betterment of her kids doesn’t make the parenting challenge any easy for her, despite having a supportive husband like Anmol by her side. With a mommy club comprising mothers of several school-going kids, she gets an outlet to voice her concerns, find her identity and empathise with each other in the need of the hour. Will that make her motherhood journey any less challenging?
Karishma Kapoor has chosen a role where she would naturally empathise with the concerns of the character – she makes the portrayal look effortless. Her pauses between the dialogues, the silences give out more meaning and there’s a remarkable composure in her portrayal in spite of the dramatics that surround her. Tillotama Shome is excellent in her act too, with the right balance of sensitivity and an uncanny comic timing that not many filmmakers have managed to extract out of her.
Shruthi Seth, Shilpa Shukla, Sandhya Mridul, Sanjay Suri fit into the other characters with assurance. Dino Morea appears to have overpowered his on-screen woodenness and is a natural in his second innings – he’s simple, confident and warm at the same time and the charm rubs onto his character.
The child actors are cast well for their parts and they thankfully don’t speak like adults.
On-screen portrayal of motherhood has largely been a cliché in the entertainment industry – the mother is often an embodiment of perfection, sentimentality, single-mindedly raising her kids, selflessly dedicating her life for the family without any complaints or otherwise, she’s in the disguise of a supposed modern-day woman where her independence in terms of thought and practice is questioned, termed recklessness and is considered ‘family-unfriendly’, subsequently tamed. Mentalhood is a refreshing take on motherhood that breaks all such myths and stereotypes, taking the viewer through the mini and major-battles that a parent has to wage every day.
Of course, with the association of Ekta Kapoor in the project, Mentalhood doesn’t pretend to be subtle or gentle with the messages it wants to ‘preach’. That aside, the director Karishma Kohli is immensely successful in bringing a lightness to the treatment, despite the various complex issues it addresses. Surprisingly, even though there’s a comic undertone throughout the series, the laughs remain inoffensive and the narrative is sensitive to the concerns of the protagonist (s).
The mother-daughter bond in the series is devoid of cinematic tropes – it’s soul-stirring to watch a mom stand by her daughter as she experiences bodily changes after puberty and have a frank conversation about it. While the series’ attempt to take note of the child abuse dimension is appreciative, it’s better when it deals with the segment about age-old gender stereotypes. The show subtly breaks all the myths associated with fashion choices, colour choices, a character analysis on the basis of a habit or a sport. The packaging of Mentalhood is smart enough to not compromise on its entertainment quotient in the process.
The tone of the series is very consistent – it doesn’t aim to antagonise a mom nor glorify her. It’s an attempt to paint a more humanly portrait with her imperfections. The show doesn’t let the stardom of Karishma overpower the narrative and gives most characters the due they deserve. But, one feels the makers have exhausted too many concerns about parenting in the same show. It would have been welcoming for the makers to have focused on a lesser number of issues and weaved more emotional depth into the story instead. Yet, Mentalhood engages more than it disappoints.
Music and Other Departments?
Chandan Saxena’s score may not win your attention exclusively, but it helps the narrative sail through smoothly without major hiccups. AltBalaji’s productions continue to be driven around sets than exterior locations. So the cardboard-like backdrops are very apparent even though you try your best to ignore it. The cinematographer Himman Dhamija and production designer Parichit Paralkar, though, do well to keep the show visually lively within the limitations.
Karishma Kapoor’s performance
Deals with a lot of relevant and relatable issues in a lighter vein
Exaggeration overpowers the story
Packs in too many issues
Did I Enjoy It?
Will You Recommend It?
For those seeking harmless fun
Review by Srivathsan Naddadhur
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