English Vinglish – I saw this movie last week. Normally I watch a movie to take a break from reality and then as usual after 2-3 hours I go back to reality! But this movie was different, this movie was reality. Even while I was sitting in the cinema hall, I felt the presence of the characters of the movie around me, as if I was a part of their story. I am writing about this movie because it touched a chord somewhere, made me think….
First of all Sridevi has outperformed herself completely. I think this is her best performance so far, specially considering that this is her comeback film. I have never been a big fan of her, although her movies were quite entertaining – Himmatwala, Tohfa, Mr. India, I think I have seen them all. The only one that made an impression on me was the movie Sadma where she plays the role of a young woman who regresses back to childhood.
English Vinglish is the story of an accomplished housewife (Shashi -played by Sridevi) who has devoted herself to her family, who feels that her needs come only after she has satisfied the needs of her family. It is not something that she is forced to do, in fact it is something that she takes pleasure in doing. Her simple need to read the morning newspaper with a cup of coffee keeps getting put off as she performs her duties, first as a daughter-in-law, then as a wife, then a mother until there is no time left for herself. Her other joy in life, her passion for making laddus (Indian sweets) and running her own small business shows that she is capable of much more but at the same time content in her little world.
Yet her love is taken for granted and she is made to feel insecure by her husband and her teenage daughter due to her lack of English speaking skills. As if she becomes less intelligent since she is not fluent in that language. But instead of becoming melodramatic about it, she takes it in her stride and without blaming anyone for the way she feels, she takes a positive step in the right direction. She signs up for a ‘Learn to speak English in 4 weeks‘ class when she is visiting her sister in the US. The end of the movie, though predictable with her speech in halting English, takes us by surprise with what she has to convey. While blessing the just married couple, Shashi talks about the importance of a marriage, of a family – its best to really watch this scene as no words can capture the essence of her speech and her emotions.
Her expressions, her emotions ranging from pride in her daughter when the Headmaster praises her, to humiliation when the same daughter openly mocks her for not being able to speak English to her friend’s mom, to happiness when everyone praises her laddus (Indian sweets), to disappointment when her husband doesn’t have the time to talk to her, is a lesson in acting for all the new actresses of today who still have a long way to go in my opinion.
As a housewife sitting in the audience I was on an emotional roller coaster ride along with her, laughing along with her new found friend circle at the language class, silently berating her teenage daughter for her lack of respect towards her mother, cheering her for feeling confident as an ”entrepreneur”, coaxing her husband to appreciate her, thanking her French co-student for making her realise her self-worth and lastly commending her for taking the right decision when it came to choosing between her passion- cooking and wanting to prove herself to the world on her exam day.
On my way back home, I decided to — be a little more patient with my mother when showing her how to use the smart phone next time round, say a thank you to my husband who always puts up a united front along with me when there is an argument with the kids, and lastly polish up all my basic skills so that I don’t end up having to face the wrath of a teenager one day!
Watch the official trailor at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dWir9Q_Vek
I also loved the Amitabh Bachchan cameo scene as Shashi’s fellow passenger on board a flight, how he builds her confidence and yet leaves a message behind for the audience.