Created by Ekta Kapoor, Mentalhood is a parenting drama that hinges on five moms and one single dad, who try to be good parents, spouses, workers while keeping their sanity intact.
Director: Karishma Kohli
Creator: Ekta Kapoor
Writer: Ritu Bhatia
Cast: Karisma Kapoor, Tillotama Shome, Shruti Seth, Sandhya Mridul, Shilpa Shukla, Dino Morea, Sanjay Suri
Streaming on: Alt Balaji and Zee5
Meet the parents
The show is full of quirky, lovable characters. There’s Meira Sharma (‘Meira with an i’ as she keeps reminding people), played by Karisma Kapoor. Starry-eyed, sweet and naïve, Meira has moved to Mumbai from Kanpur because her husband (Sanjay Suri) was transferred. She enrolls their children in Global International School, an elite school in South Bombay and quickly becomes friends with the other moms. She’s the kind of mother who wants to be her children’s best friend. Unnerved by the new mommy WhatsApp groups, school politics and her new life, Meira begins to put down her thoughts in a blog called Mental Mom that quickly takes off.
Anuja Joshi (Sandhya Mridul), aka AJo, is tough as nails. Married to a super-rich guy, Anuja is a typical rich, overachieving mom. She’s fiercely competitive and when it comes to parenting, she lives by the axiom, “give ’em enough rope and they’ll hang themselves”. She micro-manages her children’s lives and is constantly pushing them to be the best.
Shilpa Shukla is wonderful as Namrata Dalmia, a successful CEO who’s always trying to prove her worth as a ‘working mom’. Shruti Seth as Diksha Shah is fun to watch. She’s an ‘earth mother’ type and runs her own yoga studio which is attended by almost all the moms of Global International School. Diksha is in the process of separating from her husband, but doesn’t let the experience from raising her son the way she sees fit. Priety Khosla (Tillotama Shome) is a Punjabi mother, who has to deal with a chauvinist husband and a pair of troublesome sons. Completing this colourful group is Aakash Fernandes (Dino Morea), a single father, eyed by every woman in the school. In spite of being the father of twins, he’s supremely zen and often keeps this group of harrowed moms from imploding.
The show busts a few mommy-baby myths
A light drama, Mentalhood touches upon plenty of relevant issues such as the strain of parenting on a mother. Women get so immersed in the lives of their kids that they begin to lose their sense of self.
The ‘helicopter’ mother, a figure of ridicule, is viewed sympathetically in the show. The flaws and strengths of each character are explored in a nuanced way suggesting there’s no wrong or right way to be a parent. At the end of it, as Meira says, “We just want the best for our kids.”
It also shines a light on the lives of children today, who are pushed to bring home perfect scores and made to attend so many classes they have no time for themselves. Adding to the pressures of school are pressures of home. The kids in Mentalhood know exactly the tensions brewing between their parents and find ways to cope.
The show addresses plenty of other issues such as bullying, gender bias, the perception of single parents in society, identity, surrogacy and body image issues, while trying to break the stereotype of the perfect, multi-tasking modern mom. The idea of the goddess-woman distracts from the fact that women are as flawed as anyone else. They’re human after all.
This highly-watchable drama series hinges on five moms and one singer dad, each of whom is a unique character. Their stories tackle issues such as the identity crises women face after years of putting their kids first and the pressures kids face at home and school. In short, it’s a lighthearted view of 21st century parenting.