‘Thank You for Coming’ Review: Hindi Sex Comedy Finds the Elusive Female Orgasm in a Coming-of-Age Tale
ManOfTheCenturyMovie Film ‘Thank You for Coming’ Review: Hindi Sex Comedy Finds the Elusive Female Orgasm in a Coming-of-Age Tale

‘Thank You for Coming’ Review: Hindi Sex Comedy Finds the Elusive Female Orgasm in a Coming-of-Age Tale



‘Thank You for Coming’ Review: Hindi Sex Comedy Finds the Elusive Female Orgasm in a Coming-of-Age Tale

“Seventy precent of women don’t orgasm because 90 precent of men don’t know how to get her there,” a character boldly states in director Karan Boolani’s humorous if sometimes overlong comedy, “Thank You for Coming.” Co-written by Radhika Anand and Prashasti Singh and anchored by a vibrant comedic performance from star Bhumi Pednekar, this coming-of-age tale is narrated like a fable — or a very long episode of “Sex and the City,” albeit more akin to the cleaned-up versions aired on TBS. For a film so centered on sex and the elusive female orgasm, there’s a lot more talk about sex than there is actual sex on screen. 

That’s because the film isn’t actually about sex, as we follow Pednekar’s spunky Kanika Kapoor from childhood through her first orgasm — at the age of 32, the film uses this journey to explore the dampening effects societal expectations and patriarchal traditions have on the independence and fulfillment of women in India. 

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The daughter of an unmarried gynecologist, Kanika was born to stand out. At every stage of life, she bucks conventions of how a proper young woman should behave, although as an adult she suffers from the same dissatisfied longing for something more — in this case actual sexual satisfaction — that plagues most rom-com heroines.

As a child, she interrupts a school pageant presentation of a fairy tale to explain to her classmates how sex works and then is made to apologize for it by school officials. Thanks to the staunch support of her mother and grandmother, Kanika continues to forge a rebellious path as an independent woman. She’s decided her princess is going to kiss — and sleep with — a lot of frogs to find the perfect prince charming. As a teenager, she sleeps with her first boyfriend. As a college student, she sleeps with one of her professors. In her twenties, she wastes nearly a decade in a long-term relationship with a man with commitment issues. 

By 30, she’s decided she’s the problem, confessing to her BFFs Pallavi (Dolly Singh) and Tina (Shibani Bedi) that she’s never had an orgasm. A jubilant night out for her “Inglourious 32nd birthday” ends with an existential crisis in the ladies’ toilet after her blind date brings his own date: a much younger woman. When that same younger woman suggests the best sex happens when you’re with someone who loves you more than you love them, Kanika decides almost on a whim to marry her friend Jeevan (Pradhuman Singh Mall), a mild-mannered businessman who has always had a crush on her. 

Things go awry, however, when Kanika gets rip-roaring drunk at their engagement party, flirts with all her exes, and blacks out, only to wake up the next morning realizing she’s finally experienced the big O. Unable to find out who her carnal partner was, she sets out to solve the mystery with the help of her besties. It takes the entire first hour to establish what becomes the main thrust of the film, and while it does help reveal a lot about Kanika, it also drags “Thank You for Coming” out much longer than it needs to be.

As Kanika reconnects with her exes, their love stories are no longer presented through the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia. Rather than rebellious romances, there’s a history of trauma. In high school, she was slut-shamed by her teenage lover and his friends. In college, she was just one of many young girls seduced in the same way by her dashing professor. In her twenties, her boyfriend’s commitment-phobia was rooted in something more personal than she could have ever imagined. These revelations push Kanika to reevaluate herself as well, barrelling the film toward its fairly obvious ending. 

Along with Kanika’s journey toward feminist and sexual self-actualization, the film is peppered with scenes of Pallavi’s daughter Rabeya (Saloni Daini) as she comes of age herself. The film is at its best when it explores intergenerational female strength, and how this female friendship and solidarity are the keys to smashing the patriarchy. By refusing to marry the father of her child, Kanika’s mother laid the foundation on which Kanika and her friends flourished with newfound sexual liberation, and yet even they begin to buckle under the weight of societal expectations when Rabeya is subjected to slut-shaming herself. Although this parallel is the emotional center of the movie and guides Kanika toward one of her most cathartic moments, it remains underdeveloped, lingering only in the margins of the film. 

Although “Thank You for Coming” is overstuffed with too much plot and too many characters, director Boolani brings Kanika’s world to life with sumptuous visuals, kinetic editing, a jaunty soundtrack, and punchy rat-a-tat dialogue. He films the parties — which of course include a handful of spontaneous yet synchronized group dances, with rich, colorful lighting and fluid, music video-style cinematography.  

Always in the center of the frame, Pednekar is almost too luminous as she dances and seduces many a night away. However, she balances her overwhelming beauty with the same kind of scrappy screwball energy that made comedy stars out of similarly impossibly gorgeous actresses like Carole Lombard or Goldie Hawn. 

The biggest fault of “Thank You for Coming” is that Anand and Singh’s script tries to tackle too many thematic issues, ultimately short-changing most of them. However, it’s hard to deny Pednekar’s irrepressible charm and importance of the empowering if somewhat basic message of female solidarity and self-actualization at the film’s heart. 

Grade: B-

“Thank You for Coming” premiered at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival. It is currently seeking U.S. distribution.

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