Most of the Indian films I have seen in the recent months have been pretty disappointing, despite much hyped reviews. Kahani was perhaps the last good film that didn't make me feel bad about the money spent on the ticket. Barfi was entertaining but so much of it was copied from Chaplin movies that disqualifies it from being called a good movie. And then there was the questionable portrayal of an autistic (or was she a little challenged mentally?) girl  by priyanka. And how in a fairy tale kind of way, everything works out smoothly for a deaf-mute guy and his autistic girlfriend when he ends up alone with her for a few days.
The problem with Indians today is that we are willing to make do with what we get whether it is in politics or governance or movies. "we dont have any thing better" . Or is that just an outwardly expression of what we really feel inside - "we dont DESERVE anything better?" Look at the sorry state of our politicians.or the quality of things that are sold to us ; or the kind of education imparted in our schools; or the roads or the quality of power. or water supplied.  Do we ever feel that we have a RIGHT to anything better? I doubt.

It was with the same kind of cynicism that I agreed to go to watch "English Vinglish' with friends. And a desire to see Sridevi after the hiatus. Remember seeing her last in Mr.India.
Scene #1: Sridevi's face in close up and I got  a little scared. has she been very ill? All I could see in her face was her nose.  Did she get a nose job done or did she lose so much weight that her nose became so prominent?
The problem with actors is that they cannot accept ageing. I suppose it is true of most good looking people who are aware of how good looking they are. If only they don't try to fight nature and grow old gracefully by just taking care of their skin and general health, they would look great even at 50, 60, 70. Trouble is that they want to look the same as they looked at the peak of their youth and end up with disastrous results.
And then her tone - it was a little whiny and quite irritating. Ok, let's overlook that as she is portraying Sashi, a woman with a low self esteem because she cannot speak English. And her family makes her feel small.
I am not going to criticise this part because I do know a lot of women who have this kind of a complex. I just need to remember me, when I first entered college. It took a year for me to muster the courage to voice my opinion about a character in a short story during an English class. Being surrounded by kids who spoke English like it was their mother tongue wasnt a great help. The funny thing is, 
It is perfectly acceptable to say that you don't know your mother tongue well but not -ok if you don't know English." Legacy of over 300 years of English rule. This part is handled very well in the film.
If there are tweens like Sashi's daughter in the film, my advice to the parents is simple: WUN TIGHT SLAP PLEASE! That would have sorted her out , but then what do I know about today's parenting trends.

Amitabh bachchan's cameo - the curse of my generation of people is that we are under his spell and think he is great for just showing up. He looked great as usual. but then he acted silly. I don't know if he really made Sashi  feel comfortable about the journey or if she would have preferred to change her seat and save herself from his embarrassing behaviour. But I think it was meant to be looked upon as Cute behaviour. That is the perk of being an Amitabh or a Shah rukh - you can make an ass of yourself in any role and still be found adorable.

For a woman with such a low morale who was scared about taking the flight to the U.S. , Sashi does pretty well for herself by taking a train and enrolling herself in an English speaking class.  The classes are enjoyable but nothing original here but a re-creation of stuff from "mind your language". That was indeed a wonderful comedy, a lot of stereotypes but really funny.

Sashi's interlude with the French Guy is handled very well, especially where they "converse" in their own languages without needing any translation but perfectly understanding each other's emotional state at that time. We have said he is French, is there  a need to elaborate how handsome he is or how beautiful it sounds when he speaks in his language or in English?
The little boy playing Sashi's son and the pretty girl playing her niece and confidante Radha are refreshing and delightful.

Acquiring fluency in English, learning that she is actually not just a snack maker but an entrepreneur and also realising that the French guy finds her lovable makes her a confident person. Things that she finds out on her own on a short trip to the U.S, things that her family should have valued her for. 

The movie is an eye-opener of sorts in that it makes you see the ways that people who don't speak or understand English feel challenged in situations others take for granted. I hope young adults who watch this film learn that knowing English doesnt necessarily make them superior. But then again, I wonder how many such people can even see this film without subtitles!
I have met several grandmas who feel bad that they cannot converse with their grandchildren because they can't speak English and the kids have not been taught their mother tongue.

Sashi stands tall in the end, confident , a woman of her own making, not blaming her family for treating her like a doormat all these years, but advising the new bride how she must learn to help herself if that help isnt forthcoming from her husband and children. That brings me to the beginning of this post about the "we don't deserve better" attitude that plagues most women home makers who think of themselves as "just a housewife".  Stand up for yourself, women. If you don't help yourselves, no one else is going to help you.

And I liked the  wedding in the film - for once it wasn't a punjabi wedding! There is a nice song there. SRidevi in the film and no dance steps , how can that be? Tthe moves in the wedding dance are nice but  the Michael Jackson moves? I thought it didnt really go down with Sashi's character.

With all my nitpicking, it is definitely a film worth watching. Dont get carried away by the 5 star rating and 80 marks. Just go without any expectations, you'd be pleasantly surprised to see what is in store.
18 Responses
  1. R's Mom Says:

    1. I wish you would blog more were one of my inspirations to start blogging

    2. Thanks for this review. I am definitely going to watch the movie...I have heard a lot good about it, but will now go with no expectations :)

    3. Please blog regularly na... :)

  2. Usha Says:

    R's Mom: thank you so much. Your comment should be adequate inspiration for me to re-start. I plan to write more often.No point waiting for that aha moment but will jsut write a few lines - after all it is about sharing, right?

  3. It was pretty much a same review from my end when I watched the movie. I loved the niece Radha and Shashi's son. Worth a watch definitely.

  4. Raj Says:

    If Sridevi could come back to movies after 20 years, I'm sure Usha can come back to blogging after a gap of 6 months.

  5. Akhila Says:

    Nice to see you back Usha :) Can we hope to see you often? Please...

  6. Jina Says:

    What an awesome review. I saw the movie yesterday and was super impressed. I was going to write a review. But you said everything what I had to say..:)

  7. Anu Russell Says:

    Sridevi had a nose job done when she shifted from South to Bollywood...maybe it is the Return of the Nose as well as her...

    And maybe you forgot her whiny nasal talk because she has been off for so long...but her childish accent and voice irked me even when I was a kid...

    I am waiting to see this movie...I hope it stands up to all the rave reviews...

  8. Lavs Says:


    Ha ha ha.I am imagining how it would be if you speak it aloud.

    Welcome back Usha. The old timers are still around.

    Wish they had shown subtitles for what Mehdi spoke.handsome guy.

  9. rajk Says:

    Hi! Hello! You're back!! (Who am I to talk? I haven't blogged in over 5 months!) So good to hear from you. I've heard similar things about the movie. It's on my list to watch.
    By the way, just one request, please don't compare SRK and Mr.Bachchan (as in mentioning them in the same sentence :-)). There is no comparison!
    P.S.: I too "plan" to write more often. Unfortunately, it remains a plan.

  10. Usha Says:

    ashwini: :)
    Raj: haha. should I lose weight and acquire a squeaky voice too?
    Akhila: thats the plan but it never seems to last beyond a couple of posts.
    JIna: :)
    Anu: return of the nose, haha. I never noticed it so prominently before. definitely wortha watch. you wont regret.
    Lavs: Ya man, so irritating these filmy kids are. simple fix: one tight slap.
    Rajk: perhaps we should start with an interesting meme. I rememebr that it used to make everyone wake up and participate.

  11. 3mik Says:

    Sridevi and Madhuri dixit were last big heroines of bollywood and only ladies who can deliver solo hits.Watched the english vinglish recently and loved it.

  12. muthu Says:

    hmhm... my mom used love Sri Devi. May be, I will try the movie with her. :)

  13. Unknown Says:

    I got introduced to your blog yesterday with "Tbe unexpected Visitor" and thought to myself, this is really lucid. Today, I finished 9 years worth of blog entries and boy! you truly are awesome. It took me on journey of poignancy (Mrs Ramaswamy from 1988), witty ness, great humour and wonderful perceptiveness. It was great knowing Mr Sidvee too through this (glad to know the connection!). Many of your posts have had me in splits and all have made me to sit back and ponder over the issues you've raised.

    Please do keep writing. It is a real pleasure to read. Your humour, observation, wit and style rock ! More power to you :)

    Best wishes


  14. Usha Says:

    Aparna: Thank you for all your kind words.

  15. dipali Says:

    Your thoughts are mine, mostly!
    Squeaky voice, The Nose and all:)

  16. Sumana Says:

    SO happy to see you back blogging Usha. Sad state that the politicians have landed us in, in their whole game of making money. I too loved English Vinglish. yes the last part of the movie was a perfect message.

  17. Reema Says:

    I liked the movie. would have loved subtitles when that oh so gorgeous French guy was speaking in French.

  18. Yes. For once, we got real people in a Bollywood movie. Sridevi looks better now than in her old movies. Loved the camera work. Or is it because it was shot against the backdrop of trees with golden leaves in autumn.

    Agree entirely with you to give one tight slap to that daughter of hers. The boy was much more natural and cute.