Samuel L. Jackson has been King of the on-Screen F-word forever.
But who could have guessed that when a queen was crowned, she’d be from the Subcontinent, and not Dorchester, Park Slope or Culver City?
The Indian actress Kajol (Kajol Mukherjee) seizes that tiara in “Tribhanga: Tedi Medhi Crazy,” hurling F-bombs hither and yon and spicing up a formulaic and soapy but engaging story of three generations of women coping with the mothers who made them who they are.
Kajol (“My Name is Khan”), playing an actress and dancer, mother to 20ish Masha (Mithila Palkar) and daughter of famous writer Nayantara (Tanvi Azmi), has her reasons for cursing.
Anu (Kajol) is famous, and thus hounded by the press. Her mother is beloved, a much-honored novelist finishing up a biography with being written by an academic fanboy (Kunaal Roy Kapur) who is always under foot. And her daughter’s married and expecting, and maybe not the liberated woman she herself is, and her divorced mother is famous for being.
Not that Anu speaks to her mother. They’re estranged, and Anu has legitimate grievances with that “b—h,” f—-r! Don’t try to tell her she doesn’t.
Then Mom has as stroke, and the three generations are in the same hospital room — one comatose, one who has never met her father or the grandfather that grandma scandalously divorced in “conservative” India back in the ’80s.
Anu? She’s in a foul-mouthed fury, never moreso than when she’s dealing with Milan (Kapur), an irritating interviewer/biographer, and a non-drinking/non-swearing Muslim, to boot. Anu lets the ass-this and f-thats rain on the poor man, who only wants a little participation from her in the book. She is sure he’s a “golddigger” and Mom’s new heir.
Through interviews, ventings and flashbacks, each of the women reveals to Milan their past, with him sharing revelations to the others that maybe things aren’t as cut-and-dried as each believes.
Nayantara was a driven writer driven out of her own house by a shrewish, backward mother-in-law.
Did “Naya” know that one of her later lovers molested Anu, “right under her nose?”
And does Anu have a clue about how her Bollywood lifestyle and abusive relationship with Masha’s father scarred her own kid?
Sure, this is straight-up melodrama, an old fashioned “Women’s Picture” of the “Joy Luck Club” school — a “Stella Dallas” or “Mildred Pierce” in modern India, in Hindi with English subtitles. And lots of swearing.
No, it’s not as emotionally draining as any of those three classics. But it’s engrossing and touching and very well-acted, with Kajol taking this star vehicle as far as her temper, her chastened rage and her skill in applying that Old English word that starts with an F can take it.
Anu even gives Milan a George Carlin-style lecture in its proper usage. Nicely f—–g done there, sister.
MPA Rating: TV-MA, violence, and lots of profanity
Cast: Kajol, Mithila Palkar, Kunaal Roy Kapur, Tanvi Azmi and Vaibhav Tatwawaadi
Credits: Scripted and directed by Renuka Shahane. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:35