Story: Netflix describes the show as, "From boardrooms to society's margins, five ambitious women from various walks of life navigate dreams, desires and disappointments in modern Mumbai."
Review: Bombay Begums follows five women who start out lost in their own journeys but after experiencing each other's ordeals and seeing a bit of themselves in others, they come together and begin to uplift each other.
In the first episode, Alankrita Shrivastava sets the simple, real and fast-paced tone for the show. We are introduced to Rani (Pooja Bhatt), the CEO of Royal Bank of Bombay, who used to be a bank teller in Kanpur and now heads a major financial institution. The rest of the episode quickly glances through the other protagonists' lives - Fatima (Shahana Goswami), Ayesha (Plabita Borthakur), and Lily (Amruta Subhash).
Fatima is offered the bank's deputy managing director position but is wary to accept it because of her husband and the upcoming baby. Ayesha from Indore is an ambitious employee who gets fired by Fatima but is given a chance by Rani to work in the bank's Corporate Social Responsibility division.
Meanwhile, Rani's stepson injures Lily, a bar dancer turned sex worker's son in a road accident. Lily then blackmails Rani, aiming for a life of respect so her son can have a respectable future. Last but not the least, Rani's stepdaughter, Shai (Aadhya Anand), who is the series' voiceover and conscience, is eager to become a woman and lose herself in love.
The show offers a good mix of well-represented realistic characters. The story does not shy away from being dramatic but certainly embraces all the teenage cringe, the conscious adult mistakes and the confusion that comes with it. The show hooks you with the ladies fighting against the world, halfway through the six-part series, you realise they are a part of the world against them. By the end of the show, Pooja Bhatt's character even agrees, she says "We are part of the problem."
The screenplay is bland and without any big moments, but the cinematography and the performances make up for it. All five of the leading ladies shine in their own key moments and also while sharing screen space. One of the best parts of the show is, Shai's (Aadhya Anand) narration as she describes the characters and the situation in poems.
The teenager's philosophical commentary on her own life also runs in tune with the adults, who have lost themselves busy surviving the cat and mouse game. On the other hand, the male characters in the show contribute very little and for once that is not a bad thing.
Overall, Bombay Begums will turn the world against you from under you to show you the mirror. As much as the story may seem in the audience's face, the subject is such that it needs to be.