Bombay Begums season 1, episode 5 recap – what happened in “The Golden Notebook”?

By Daniel Hart
Published: March 8, 2021
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Netflix series Bombay Begums season 1, episode 5


“The Golden Notebook” brings a sobering narrative on female sexual assault victims; how they are made to be blamed for male behavior due to societal and organizational pressures.

This recap of Netflix’s Bombay Begums season 1, episode 5, “The Golden Notebook”, contains significant spoilers.

“The Golden Notebook” opens with Fatima telling the man she’s slept (Jeff) with that she cannot see him again before giving him a slow kiss. Shai narrates that she doesn’t like how the world blames Eve, referring to Adam & Eve and giving in to temptations — a great way to compare how women and men are treated in this series. Fatima returns home, and she looks broken and ashamed; her husband is asleep on the couch, which compounds her guilt. The next day, Fatima and Arijay learn that they are going to have a baby. Arijay is over-the-moon, but for Fatima, it looks like a bittersweet moment. The past events have taken a toll on her.

Coming clean

Bombay Begums season 1, episode 5, then sees Ayesha be brave and come forward about what happened to her, despite the adversity she’s going to face.

Ayesha has posted her experiences regarding Deepak in an anonymous place. Someone has responded, stating the same happened to her at the same bank, and there’s nothing they can do about it. She then gets a salary offer for Deepak’s department, but she rejects it.

Ayesha goes to Fatima, Rani and Lily, and other colleagues and tells them about her experiences with Deepak, however, the story sounds more brutal this time, where she tells them that she was forced to give Deepak a blowjob. She expresses how she was scared and wanted it to be over. Fatima asks more questions like “does she live with Ron?” and “how much did she drink?”. Rani promises to look into it. Afterward, Fatima tells Rani that Deepak is not a sexual predator.

Fatima then approaches Ayesha directly and accuses her of having an affair that’s been turned into an “assault drama”. She asks Ayesha to think about what she’s doing. In this situation, Fatima indirectly supports the sexual predator and is just as complicit in many ways.

Deepak sends a warning.

Fatima tells Deepak that there’s a sexual assault claim against him and that he has to take leave during the investigation. Deepak approaches Rani and tells her to do what she can to drop the investigation, or he will play dirty. The war in the board room continues.

Fatima doesn’t want to celebrate

When Fatima gets into the office, Arijay has a surprise for her to celebrate their baby, but she rejects celebrating as she’s “too busy”. Her husband tells her that he hopes she gets some rest when the baby comes, and then he storms out. As she does, Jeff texts her asking if she wants champagne. She gives in and meets him; she’s completely losing herself and her marriage. Rani also cannot resist and continues her affair with Mahesh, kissing him secretly while at a party.

Fatima tells Jeff that she’s constantly at war with her body. As the affair continues, Jeff asks her to meet him in London. Fatima then opens up about the baby to Jeff, and he’s confused, but she explains how it’s surrogacy. Jeff comforts her, seeing she’s in pain. As we saw in the last episode, Fatima’s battle with her career and inability to come to terms with the fact that it will not be her baby is mentally inflicting her.

Rani threats Ayesha

Rani is told that due to a PR issue, she needs to bring back Deepak, but she tells a board member that she’s following due process and needs to let it run its course. The board member tells her that her position is under threat. Rani has a private conversation with Ayesha and implies that she needs to forget and move on. She offers her career incentives under Deepak, but Ayesha tries telling her she doesn’t want to. Rani talks about potentially getting fired for not getting the factory up and running and negligence. This is a threat. A horrible, unforgivable threat. This makes Rani equally complicit — “The Golden Notebook” demonstrates how sexual abuse can be systematic in large organizations.

Deepak’s wife then approaches Ayesha and tells her that she’s forgiven for making a play with her husband. Ayesha is put in a position where she’s made to feel guilty for being sexually abused. After blowing off steam at a party, Ayesha returns to Ron’s house. She gets comfortable with him. They end up kissing, and Ron asks Ayesha if she’s sure, but she carries on kissing, which leads to sex.

The ending

Bombay Begums season 1, episode 5 ends in shocking terms.

Shai narrates how no desires are forbidden, and she heads to Imran’s house party. She gives him a notebook with drawings on it. The party turns wild with alcohol and cocaine and Shai sees Imran kiss another girl. Later in the night, Shai is found in the bathroom, unconscious with vomit all over the floor.

“The Golden Notebook” brings a sobering narrative on women sexual assault victims; how they are made to be blamed for male behavior due to societal and organizational pressures.

Additional points
  • Lily meets her past lover and also father to her son. There seems to be peace in the family now that Lily has made a new venture in life. She’s worried that the city will always look at Vaibhav as the “son of a whore”.

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