Director: Rakhee Sandilya
Cast: Sumeet Vyas, Kalki Koechlin, Kiearra Soni
Ribbon is like a comatose patient who springs to life just when you have given up hope. The first hour of the film is a painfully slow and stretched portrait of an urban, modern couple in the throes of baby crisis. Sahana is a skilled executive who is less than overjoyed when she finds out that she is pregnant. She has a blossoming career – her boss refers to her as his star employee. But her husband, Karan convinces her to keep the baby. And soon they are grappling with nanny issues, unsupportive work environments, the lack of good crèches and financial stress. Inevitably, their marriage becomes weighed down by the myriad mundane details of raising a child in an unforgiving city like Mumbai.
All of this is logical and realistic but all of which we already know. The problem with Ribbon is that debutante director Rakhee Sandilya doesn’t provide any new insights. We just watch Karan and Sahana struggle. The pacing is slow; the acting apart from the two leads, dodgy; and the writing, largely uninspired. Karan, played by Sumeet Vyas, is an underwritten character. He mostly just stands around while Sahana, played by Kalki Koechlin vents her frustration.
And then just as your own frustration with the film is peaking, Rakhee throws in a twist that is both heartbreaking and keenly observed. Much of the power in the scenes here comes from the wonderful child actor, Kiearra Soni. She is guileless and raw. Her unknowing smile makes the horrific situation even more piercing. I don’t know how Rakhee elicited this performance from such a young girl but full marks to both of them. The film ends with a husband-wife showdown that beautifully captures the hidden resentments and frayed emotions that are embedded in every marriage.
Kalki delivers a solid performance as a woman who isn’t afraid to acknowledge uncomfortable emotions. Sahana is not an instantly likeable person. She’s tough and uncompromising, especially when it comes to her career. Sahana is back to work three months after having a baby. She doesn’t have an iota of guilt, which, I can vouch from personal experience, is every working mother’s most consistent emotion. There is a nice steeliness about her.
By the end of the film, I was rooting for Sahana and her family to thrive. But getting to this point was much too tedious.