Ribbon movie review: Kalki Koechlin, Sumeet Vyas’ invested performances tie this film together

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Ribbon movie

2.5/5

Cast: Kalki Koechlin,Sumeet Vyas       Director: Rakhee Sandilya

In modern times, a double income-earning couple is not uncommon. But when the wife gets pregnant, it is often she who must make the maximum sacrifices and commit herself to child rearing. In the case of the upwardly mobile Sahana and Karan, both on a career fast track, news of a pregnancy is received differently. She’s sure it is bad timing, he’s convinced all will be well. This story of urban relationships runs through a gamut of issues and angst affecting a modern working couple that must adjust to an unplanned pregnancy.ribbonOver the course of the film, we see the baby being born, Sahana returning to work, Karan taking on additional assignments to pay off mounting debts, issues with gender discrimination at Sahana’s work place, the complexities of hiring a nanny, life improving and then throwing a curve ball just when the family settles into a cushy life.

The insight, the unique take that you impatiently await as this mundane drama plays out, remains undelivered by the writers and director. If you are engaged at all, it is owing to the efforts of Kalki Koechlin and Sumeet Vyas who immerse themselves in their parts. The story is mostly told from Sahana’s point of view. But you wish for a little more of Karan’s perspective too.

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Most working parents speak of the guilt of leaving a newborn/ toddler as they pursue careers. This is unexplored by writers Rakhee Sandilya (also the director) and Rajeev Upadhyay. A nanny is hired without any due diligence. From the moment she first rings the doorbell, you can see bad news written all over her yet Sahana relies on an app for the reference.

As she busies herself getting back to her job, director Sandilya drives home the deeply entrenched gender discrimination against working mothers. Gender discrimination is a strong element of the story and one of the many headlines that the story touches on that is actually explored in some depth. But the actors playing managers, colleagues, interviewers and bosses are so amateur that the scenes are inadvertently comical. In fact, several of the supporting cast members overact in jarring contrast to Koechlin and Vyas’s controlled performances.

Some of the working  mothers who watched the film with me commented that their lives are not as mundane as that of Karan-Sahana. And it’s the series of uninteresting events in their lives that makes the film seem longer than its one hour 46 minutes running time.

Although Sandilya’s documentary-like style of having the camera follow the characters from behind gets clumsy at times in a feature narrative (you can sense from the actors that they have been instructed to ‘ignore’ the camera), she smoothly handles the transition of time moving the story along over a period of some years.

While several societal and emotional comments are underscored, there is scant exploration of several compelling issues, not even the plot twist in the final act.

Not all ideas translate well to film and though are some moments of note, if Ribbon works at all, it is credit to Koechlin’s and Vyas’ committed and convincing performances.

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