Aisha Banerjee taught many girls how to be unconventional. Despite being the "new girl in the city", she was a storm in the silence, the calmness in the clutter, in pursuit of her own self.
It might have been 10 years of Wake Up Sid, but Aisha, played by Konkana Sensharma, seems to have aged like fine wine.
So what was it about Aisha that resonated with the aspirations of women, striking a chord with the cinephiles, so much so, that she continues to be one of the best depicted female characters on the silver screen?
Wake Up Sid might be the story of Sid and his transition from a clueless boy to a determined man, but out of the several people who help him, Aisha played the most important part. She was a headstrong feminist who quashed societal norms at every juncture. When Sid asks her to walk with him after their first meeting at the farewell party, she makes it clear that she doesn't want to sleep with him. She takes the decision of moving from Kolkata to Mumbai to fulfill her dreams, and then leave her hostel and shift to a flat, all on her own.
Aisha stumped the cliched rules set by "others". She gives shelter to Sid when he leaves his house out of impulse. She does not think twice about how having a guy under the same roof will be seen by "them". In the set-up where men were most uncertain about their choices, Aisha knew what she wanted. She was honest about her dreams while seeking a job (she was ready to even clean the table of her boss), and when need be, she even had the strength to refuse to her boss' proposal of a jazz night.
Aisha was calm, composed, mature, unassuming like that one confidante we all need in our lives, who can pull us out of any mess. Her vulnerability was hidden behind her deep striking eyes, the little fragments of her smile were a breath of fresh air.
Can we call Aisha, the "boss lady"? Definitely yes! She had no qualms in accepting her age and that she had fallen in love with Sid who was many years younger to her. She was a guardian in one instance (when she scolds Sid for keeping the house messy), and vulnerable in another (at the beach when she accepts her love for Sid).
Aisha came out in all her glory in a striking scene with Sid, where she gives him a reality check. When Sid asks her why she won't be more than friends with him, Aisha first warns him of feeling bad if she told him the truth. After much pestering, she finally reveals she finds him "a kid, immature, childish... not someone she is looking for". While a saddened Sid further asks her what she seeks in a man, she says, "I'm looking for somebody who is independent, for starters, someone with a career, a goal in life, somebody I can relate to. In short, a man, not a boy!" While Sid exclaims "Basically, the exact opposite of me", Aisha smiles in acceptance.
Bollywood had back then, barely seen an Aisha, a girl who's easy-going, clear about her desires without creating any hue and cry. In fact, to say that her journey was much more noteworthy and difficult than Sid won't be wrong. She was alone in a new city, looking for an identity, without friends, struggling to discover her own self, overpowering all obstacles to achieve her dreams.
Aisha is the unsung hero of this Ayan Mukerji film. She teaches us that life is beautiful, and dreams do come true. She seeps through our hearts, very quietly!