Tahira Kashyap Khurrana has written novels and directed short films as well as a chapter in the 2021 Netflix anthology film Feels Like Ishq. In her debut feature for Prime Video, Kashyap Khurrana follows the parallel and yet similar lives of three women who share the surname Sharma.

Two of the interconnected experiences in Kashyap Khurrana’s Sharmajee Ki Beti revolve around mother-daughter relationships. Jyoti (Sakshi Tanwar) teaches mathematics and physics at a coaching centre but struggles to firm up an equation with her disgruntled teenaged daughter Swati (Vanshika Taparia). Jyoti’s husband Sudhir (Sharib Hashmi) is a sweet-and-supportive gem, but Swati has clearly committed to memory Judy Blume’s classic 1970 novel Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. Swati’s rage that she hasn’t got her period yet is directed towards her mother.

Kiran (Divya Dutta) gets along just fine with her own teenager Gurveen (Arista Mehta) but has other problems. A recent implant in Mumbai from Patiala, Kiran is married to the indifferent Rohan (Parveen Dabbas), is unable to keep up with Mumbai’s hectic pace, and has the loneliness of the unfulfilled housewife.

Finally, there is Tanvi (Saiyami Kher), a talented Ranji-level player whose boyfriend Rohan (Ravjeet Singh) calls her “baby” and condescends to her at all times. The movie follows these two generations through many downs that are inexorably converted into ups.

Vanshika Taparia (L) and Arista Mehta in Sharmajee Ki Beti (2024). Courtesy Ellpisis Entertainment/Applause Entertainment/Prime Video.

Kashyap Khurrana’s screenplay is stuffed with cute moments, obstacles that are miraculously navigated and the suggestion that the patriarchy can be vanquished as soon as women learn to say no. The 115-minute Sharmajee Ki Beti is an ultra-mild fairy tale that barely begins to confront the magnitude of the hurdles faced by the women and girls.

From infidelity to sexuality and inter-generational conflict to sexism, every crease is ironed out with a neatness that is almost never available in the real world but can certainly be found in a self-help manual. What might have amounted to a crisis in another movie is the source here of good-natured humour laced with relentless sunny-side-upness.

Sharmajee Ki Beti benefits from warmly observed characters and compelling performances. Antara Lahiri’s editing creates a smooth balance between the various sub-plots. The detailing in Kashyap Khurrana’s screenplay – Kiran’s vivid fantasies, Jyoti’s numerous cellphone reminders to herself, Tanvi’s eager-to-please behaviour – trumps the larger message that for women to be taken seriously, they must offer proof of achievement in one way or another.

Of the three women, Divya Dutta is the most compelling. Although Kiran’s track is the most complicated as well as the most easily resolved, Dutta is an endearing superwoman.

The teenagers dominate their stories, giving their parents serious competition. Vanshika Taparia, as Swati, and Arista Mehta, as Gurveen, are delightfully unselfconscious actors, acing their schoolyard jousting and tackling of problems that appear major but end up being rather minor.

Sharmajee Ki Beti (2024).