Sharmajee Ki Beti Review: A Lively, Warm Film Buoyed By Flawless Performances

Sharmajee Ki Beti Review: Sakshi Tanwar's ambitious working woman dividing her time between her home and her job is an epitome of tenacity. Divya Dutta's woman neglected and scorned is emotionally edgier and given to impulsive acts.

Sharmajee Ki Beti Review: A Lively, Warm Film Buoyed By Flawless Performances

A still from Sharmajee Ki Beti. (courtesy: YouTube)

It is not very often that a female-led dramedy from the Mumbai movie industry spells out its intent with the kind of refreshing lightness of touch that first-time director Tahira Kashyap brings to bear upon Sharmajee Ki Beti.

Bright and breezy, but never unduly frothy, the film, written by the director herself, extends the concerns that she espouses in her books (The 12 Commandments of Being a Woman, The 7 Sins of Being a Mother, etc) in, by and large, a similarly non-preachy vein.

The film centres on five key characters - three women, two of them married and one involved in a serious relationship, and two teenage girls dealing with the pangs of puberty - who navigate the curve balls that life and society hurl at them. They baulk at times and fret and fume at others, but they eventually figure out ways to hold firm.

On the flip side, Sharmajee Ki Beti succumbs occasionally to overstatement and strokes of a broad nature but that lacuna does not come in the way of its general clarity of thought and treatment. It is a lively, warm film marked by insight, intelligence and imagination and buoyed by a bunch of flawless performances.

The three adult protagonists - Jyoti Sharma (Sakshi Tanwar), Kiran Sharma (Divya Dutta) and Tanvi Sharma (Saiyami Kher) - are faced with divergent challenges. Each of them has a male partner and the pressure of fulfilling personal aspirations that take their toll on their lives and relationships.

The two married ones, coaching centre teacher Jyoti and homemaker Kiran, have a daughter each, Swati (debutante Vanshika Taparia) and Gurveen (Arista Mehta). The girls are classmates and inseparable friends who hide nothing from each other.

Swati, just shy of 14, frets that she isn't menstruating yet. "I'm not normal," she laments. The girl is chosen to play "Ramu kaka" in a school play. That does not sit well with her. The selection, she feels, has something to do with her lack of feminine curves.

Swati's blue funk rubs off on her equations with mom Jyoti, who also has to deal with spiteful coaching centre colleagues, both female and male. But it is her daughter's accusations that sting the most.

Jyoti's husband, Sudhir (Sharib Hashmi), who works night shifts, is more than supportive and takes care of household chores when his wife is away at work during the day. Kiran has no such luck. Her husband, corporate honcho Vinod (Parvin Dabas), has no time for her. Neither does anybody she tries to strike up a conversation with.

A woman from Patiala who has been in Mumbai for only a year, Kiran has no friends. She wants to reach out to the other residents of her housing complex but make no headway with them. She is compelled to withdraw further into her shell.

Kiran's only confidant is a young male household help. Her simple ambition is to get women in the building to play tambola with her. But that is easier said than done.

Baroda girl Tanvi, who shares an apartment with two other girls in the same building, has shifted to Mumbai to pursue her cricket career. She has to reckon with a boyfriend - model and aspiring actor Rohan (Ravjeet Singh), a fun-loving but orthodox Haryanvi lad who hopes that the girl he intends to marry will one day give up cricket and embrace domesticity.

Each one of these women and girls face a slew of problems - most of them not of their own making - and look for ways around them. Finding solutions and surmounting obstacles isn't easy. The men around them do not make matters any easier for them.

The men in Sharmajee Ki Beti aren't monsters, but they come wired with their own obsessions and presumptions about women and what they want, need or deserve. While one of them insists to his woman that he isn't an insecure guy and does not want to leave her behind, another asserts that he isn't a cheap guy. These are meant to be words of reassurance but, unbeknownst to the men, have the opposite effect.

Jyoti has her daughter's tantrums to come to grips with. Kiran's problems stem from her loneliness, her husband's apathy and the neighbours' steadfast refusal to respond to her friendly feelers. And Tanvi struggles to balance her goals with the demands of a boyfriend who cannot see beyond his nose.

Barring a few stray scenes that feel extraneous to the film's simple, slice-of-life quality, Sharmajee Ki Beti goes haywire when it stages cricket action. Its portrayal of Tanvi's exploits on the field of play - it is accompanied by a commentator cackling away on the soundtrack - and a couple of her claims about women's cricket in India lack nuance, if they are not factually way off the mark.

These, however, are minor glitches in an otherwise thoroughly watchable film made all the more entertaining by the consistency of the principal actors. Each of the five women are given a distinct tone and timbre. The actors flesh out their parts to perfection.

Sakshi Tanwar's ambitious working woman dividing her time between her home and her job is an epitome of tenacity. Divya Dutta's woman neglected and scorned is emotionally edgier and given to impulsive acts. Saiyami Kher's lady with a mind and goal of her own exudes just the right combination of solidity and vulnerability.

The real star of Sharmajee Ki Beti is Vanshika Taparia. Playing the mercurial and precocious Swati who loves to hate her mom, she is a livewire who delivers an absolutely phenomenal performance. Arista Mehta, as the steadier Gurveen who springs a revelation on her harried mother only to be pleasantly surprised, is the perfect foil to Taparia

Sharmajee Ki Beti, out on Prime Video, is a film that is well worth your time.


Sakshi Tanwar, Divya Dutta, Saiyami Kher, Vanshika Taparia, Arista Mehta, Sharib Hashmi, Parvin Dabas


Tahira Kashyap