Faridoon Shahryar's Blog

Thursday, October 4, 2012

English Vinglish: Simple Idea...Big Impact!

A simple idea executed astutely can make for a far more enriching cinematic experience than a Big idea that weighs on nerves and is too self impressed with its own holier-than-thou greatness. English Vinglish is a simple idea about the importance of English as a communication tool and yes one can't take anything away from the snob value associated with crisp-n-brisk Spoken English. Even though, it's a heartwarming film, but the manner in which the protagonist's daughter and husband deride or belittle her lack of English speaking skills is somewhat over the top and unreal.

Intelligent humour, laced with solid writing is the back bone of English Vinglish but at the same time, the slow pace of the film requires patience. Director Gauri Shinde doesn't worry about the so called market demands and sticks to the context of the film. So, her characters liberally speak in English and yes, sometimes in French too. She is thankfully not apologetic about it and as a compensation doesn't shove an ill placed item song to ensure all the demographics are 'happy'.

I've always maintained that writing makes or breaks a film. The shelf life of any movie depends on its writing. The dialogues, the way the scenes are written and then how the filmmaker edits his/ her film (to ensure there are no lose ends) decides the longevity or ephemeral appreciation. The films that tend to stay back in my mind for all the right reasons are the ones that apart from being entertaining, also have layered meaning in mere actions. It is left to the viewer to deduce the impressions as per their understanding.

After making a point, and lucidly conveying that she is not a pushover, Shashi (Sridevi) asks for a Hindi newspaper. Her husband Satish (Adil Hussain) is sitting next to her in the airplane and had asked for an English newspaper a short while back. Somehow she doesn't want to compete with her husband. Even though she believes in equality of men and women, maybe she is sensible enough not to puncture the false sense of superiority that men possess. It doesn't make her any less. The highly engaging portions in the film are the scenes between Sridevi and French actor Mehdi Nebbou. The chemistry between the two is radiant. Romance doesn't have to be heaving bosoms and pristine poetry. Romance is...when English classes are made available on a mobile phone or a French delicacy is prepared with love.

Sridevi applies the Simplicity aspect to her acting as well. She makes you laugh, she makes you respect her dignity and she leaves you distressed with her predicaments but she never tries hard to 'Act'. She breaks the myth of the Sridevi of Mr India, Himmatwala, Sadma etc. She had been away from the arc lights for the last fifteen years and when she makes a comeback, it is with a performance which is ahead of its time. A character that takes pride in being an entrepreneur, is free thinking, isn't 'judgmental' (An important word in the film) about people and their preferences, is under confident and yet assimilates in the scheme of things with her stoic resolve.

English Vinglish is a technically sound film. Laxman Utekar's cinematography is rich in texture and yet simple. You will really like looking at the beautiful leaves each time the camera zooms in. Hemanti Sarkar's editing is characterised by seamless editing chops but as I said in the beginning, the film has its own pace and it may not be suitable for almost everyone. Amit Trivedi's music is wonderful. English Vinglish, Badla Nazara, Manhattan and Gustakh Dil are great tracks. Navrai Majhi is a marriage song that finds Sridevi breaking into a jig. Even the background score is impactful.     

Gauri Shinde makes a superb debut with English Vinglish. It is not a Feministic breast beating exercise. She carefully paints her characters and leaves a scope for multiple shades in one person. Satish is not portrayed as 'all black'. Like most of the husbands, he takes his wife for granted and chides her now and then (at times grievously hurting, even though unintentionally). But he selects a great Saari for her too and takes care of the kids when she is away. And yes, he gets jealous when he watches Shashi giving laddoos of affection to some other man. Like most men, Mehdi Nebbou considers physical intimacy a natural extension of man-woman relationship. On being spurned, he turns a new leaf and takes refuge in friendship. Shinde has told a good-n-simple story in an entertaining manner. You don't want to miss this one.

Star Rating: **** Laddoos


  1. Well done...laddoos for you too..*mental note to try them sometime*..Sridevi is a fine actress and to prove her metal after a long absence is nothing short of brilliant. Lamhe..Chandni are a tour de force..hope to see more worthy of her talents.