Mentalhood review: Karisma Kapoor’s web show is an essential but preachy parenting guide
Cast: Karisma Kapoor, Sandhya Mridul, Tillotama Shome, Sanjay Suri, Dino Morea, Shilpa Shukla, Shruti Seth
Director: Karishma Kohli
The antiseptic version of motherhood is often sold to us on television, with a woman happily multi-tasking with nary a hair out of place. In reality, to use a colloquialism, it can be mentalhood. That is the name of Karisma Kapoor’s debut web series, and its message. The show which is streaming on AltBalaji and Zee5 tells you to embrace your parenting style because there is no perfect way of doing it. Mentalhood is a unique journey of an imperfect parent, who can range from protective to paranoid, fun to fierce.
Watch Mentalhood trailer here
Karisma returns to the screens, albeit smaller this time, as a mother of three with Sanjay Suri as her workaholic husband. A former Miss Kanpur, she gave up her modelling aspirations to bring up her kids - two planned and the third one an accident. Now, she is aiming to set up her ‘modern family’ in Mumbai, away from her interfering and nosey mother-in-law. With not many avenues open in terms of career, Karisma’s Meira Sharma starts a blog under the pen name Mentalmom, penning her day-to-day learnings as a mother.
But full marks to Mentalhood for giving us a chapter by chapter class in modern parenting. One may even identify with the scenario but not the show which is marred by poor editing and weak screenplay. If you can overlook the multiple hiccups, it successfully addresses different facets of motherhood, dealing with all kinds of issues from bullying, gender fluidity to child molestation.
It does borrow its premise from Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon’s hit series, Big Little Lies, as moms from varied financial backgrounds are united by the school their kids are enrolled at. The 10-episode series, however, fails to deliver on the entertainment quotient with hardly any mystery or thrill adding to the storyline. An audience like me, who isn’t a parent, wonders why the makers chose to not make it for everyone instead of just parents.
However, one actor who manages to overshadow the series is Tillotama Shome. As Preity, with an i, she plays a tiger mom who walks the tightrope as a good parent with an uncouth husband and two problem kids. She even steals the spotlight from Karisma and is a revelation as a foul-mouthed mother of two sons who take after their ill-mannered father. The Monsoon Wedding actor gets the best dialogues and adds that much-needed dose of fun to this parenting textbook.
Sandhya Mridul, Shilpa Shukla and Shruti Seth too fare well as diverse moms, but Dino Morea’s effortless act as a single father deserves a special mention. The actor slips into the role like a natural and even justifies a character’s statement about how men with babies, guitars or dogs are the ones women drool over.
Alas, the shortcomings of the show are hard to miss, for instance Karisma thanking the school in-charge with a “thanks bhaiya” looks completely out of place. The show misses several opportunities to add up some fun as Karisma struggles to deal with her Mumbai maid’s tantrums but the makers fail to explore the idea. The writer impresses with a tiny reference to how a little nepotism is a usual phenomenon but again fails to milk the issue.
Mentalhood eventually turns out to be an essential crash course in parenting. From how to deal with a bully to grooming a bullied child, it has many takeaways for those with kids. As per the show, parenting emerges to be the delicate art of when to push and when not to. It touches upon how doting moms suffer from emotional insecurity and competitiveness in order to provide the best for their child and make them better than their peers. It also highlights the case of absentee parents who have gifts to lavish on their kids but no time. The makers can also take a bow for showing possibly the right way to break the news to adopted or surrogate kids.
(Author tweets @ruchik87)
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