Friday, October 19, 2012

English Vinglish (2012)

Saturday morning, I drove off with Manu and Ramesh to watch a light hearted entertainer, English Vinglish.  It was yesteryear actor, Sridevi’s return to the world of cinema after a hiatus. She is a natural actor and to watch her again on screen was a refreshing change. I must confess, Adil Hussain’s presence was an added bonus.

English Vinglish is a clichéd feel-good tear jerker, perfect for any audience, which makes it absolutely likable. It revolves around the life of Sashi Godbole (our protagonist), your typical home bound Maharashtrian house wife, whose life predictably revolves around her husband, kids and her mother-in-law. She is well known for making homemade ladoos which makes a remunerative business and something she is proud of. However, her grasp over the English language is poor and Sashi is often ridiculed by her loving, but insensitive hubbie, Sathish (Adil Hussian) and her elder daughter most of the time. As with most kids at that age, her daughter finds her mom’s inability to converse in English a huge embarrassment. Her adorable son and her supportive mom-in-law are the only ones who are considerate and caring.

Things take a quick turn when Sashi is expected to travel to the United States to help her only sister’s daughter’s wedding. While everyone is excited about seeing New York, the entire trip proves terribly intimidating to Sashi. Nevertheless she reaches New York with a little support from her fellow passenger, a cameo role played by the Big B. At her sister’s place, her social conversations are daunting because of the language barrier. She chances upon an English Language school and quietly enrolls there. Her niece of course finds out about it and encourages her to complete the class. Her class comprises students of different nationalities, similar to the older version of Mind Your Language, who bring in the required element of fun and frolic. One of the students, Laurent (the very handsome Mehdi Nebbou) a baker from France, falls in love with her and treats her with respect.  They both converse in their own mother tongue and yet find a sense of contentment. She longs for the same sense of respect and sense of belonging from her family. Her big day arrives when she enlists a little help from her niece and delivers a speech of honor in fluent English at her niece's wedding, silencing her family once and for all.

Sridevi’s performance is a treat to watch except that her facial muscles seemed paralyzed up close and her voice was unsure, a little wobbly in the first part of her performance. Infact, she did not come across as a natural homemaker in the initial stages; but as Sashi Godbole who faces the travails of getting around a new country conversing in a foreign language, it was undoubtedly a splendid performance. Adil Hussain holds his presence as her affectionate, but insensitive husband who feels a little insecure by his wife's sense of new found independence. 

For those of us who are newbies in a new country, a lot of the scenes make sense. I could relate to it. It also reminds you of the struggle one faces in a place away from home and how much a small act of kindness can change someone's world. I enjoyed watching Amitabh's performance although a little exaggerated; but we must give it to the man for regaling us with such energy at 70. Both Sridevi and Amitabh are powerful actors and when you see talents collaborating on screen, you cannot but be in awe of them. I am yet to watch the Tamizh version with Ajith playing the cameo role. 

Overall, the perfect movie for a lovely Saturday morning after a week long trip to work and back.

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