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.
Hi Mehroo! I loved this movie too and I have always been a big Sridevi fan and it was such a delight to watch her again! And I really liked the climax speech, it's so genuine and something we all forget in our daily lives. It just reminds us to be thankful for a lovely family we have and not to be judge mental and take them for granted 🙂
I really like your style of writing, very expressive and open!
Hi Reena, thanks for your encouraging comments. I loved the movie too and the minute I reached home which was about midnight I wanted to blog about it…I started my laptop, opened blogger.com, wrote the title, but then fatigue set in and I couldn't keep my eyes open. I am just glad that I could finally manage to write even if it was after a few days, but the emotions that would have emerged that night might be lacking here.
himanshu nagpal says
Movie was nice and so is your description about it. We all have to be bit more patient in several cases which we tend to overlook in our yet so busy lifes.
Himanshu Nagpal | Being Traveler
Hi Himanshu, thank you for your comment and for taking the time out to read my blog. I see that you have a blog too and will go through it soon.
deepak kripal says
loved the movie.. Sridevi is awesome in the movie..
Mehroo Turel says
Hi Deepak, thank you for taking the time to visit my blog. Yes Sridevi's acting was something else, planning to do a repeat watch of her movie.
one of the messages the movie says and you also said it here " knowing english is not = being intelligent or superior." if that were the case 3/4ths of the world must be full of ignoramus individuals.
This so called superficial standards of being modern that we uphold in India as some thing superior or elite sometimes boils my blood.
Also that pisses me off here in the US is when one indian i.e. first gen staying here or visiting family meets others here the question always asked is so "what do you do?" and when a woman says " homemaker" they give this strange look of sympathy that reads "poor you. how you must be suffering or maybe you are not able to pursue work for various reasons." how the hell does it matter what some random stranger does is she going to contribute to your household bottomline?? sorry i went on a rant there but i am kinda sick of people equating an individuals worth with the amount of money they make especially in our "Great Indian Society". Btw i do work right now and i have a 1 year old son so its not like i am bitter or anything. I am just sad at the materialistic superficial society we are slowly becoming both in india and especially here in the US where when we look at a person all we do is size them up based on money they make.