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Oct 062012
 



By Naveen

English Vinglish (2012)
Story, Screenplay, Direction: Gauri Shinde
Cast: Sridevi, Mehdi Nebbou, Priya Anand, Adil Hussain

From the Bollywood cesspool emerges another hideous junk called English Ving…

What??

Oh No! Wait a second. That is how I habitually start the reviews of Indian films.

But every once in a while there comes a film that makes your eat your words of skepticism and leaves you with pure joy.

Eros International’s “English Vinglish” *ing Sridevi belongs to the category of rare good movies from Bollywood.

I went to the theater expecting the movie to open to empty seats but on the contrary there was a long line of people waiting to make their way into the hall.

Sridevi, returning to the screen after 15 years was able to draw more audience in US than Kamal Haasan or Akshay Kumar in recent times.

Crowds Waiting to see Sridevi's English VinglishIndian-Americans Waiting to See English Vinglish in Chicago

Story

English Vinglish is an underdog story. It is the story of an under-appreciated, taken for granted Maharashtrian home maker, Shashi (Sridevi), who has trouble with the English language.

Although Shashi is happily married to Sathish (Adil Hussain) and has a teenage daughter and a son, her lack of English language skills makes her an object of ridicule within her family and a source of embarrassment for her daughter Sapna.

No matter how hard Shashi tries her efforts are often trivialized and insulted consciously or otherwise by her husband and daughter.

Shashi goes to New York for a few weeks to help her elder sister prepare for her niece’s wedding. More bad experiences due to her language problem prompts her to secretly join a four-week English language course.

The rest of the movie is about how she regains self-confidence and gets the respect she deserves.

What works well…

Simplicity!

Nothing works better than a simple story told in an entertaining manner. The story here also works in multiple layers.

Kudos to first time director Gauri Shinde for doing a fantastic job of subtly exposing what kind of jerks the typical Indian men are in the patriarchal society.

Gauri also lays bare the hypocrisy and hollowness of the Indian mindset with regard to blind acceptance of English superiority and this is the central subtext of the movie.

Gauri Shinde takes credit for the story and screenplay.

I give Gauri credit for doing one hell of a fine job!

Believable!

Often movies that start well meander aimlessly to unrealistic conclusions. Gimmicks and shock values are compulsively added to conceal the lack of a plot. However, Gauri is not about succumb to such manly mistakes.

The movie tells a serious and real story that a vast majority of Indian women (and non-Indian) have gone through for centuries and continue to go through. But, it never gets preachy or melodramatic and instead takes a humorous and realistic path.

If you are an Indian male then Shashi will reminds you of your Grandmother / Mother / Wife and Sathish should remind you of your Grandfather / Father / Yourself!

Characters and Performance!

I was never a big fan of Sridevi.

I didn’t miss Her Royal Thighness for 15 years when she was busy making babies with Boney Kapoor and playing Mom instead of acting.

The lady has now returned with a vengeance and given one of her best and most mature performances ever. Her age doesn’t show but her experience does. This role was made for Sridevi and it is her performance along with the craft of Gauri Shinde that makes this film a winner.

A fine ensemble of memorable characters form the “Mind your Language” type hilarious classroom sequences. Among those is Laurent, played by French actor Mehdi Nebbou, who is besotted with Shashi. He has an arresting screen presence and does a decent job of a hopeless romantic. Even characters who have only a few minutes of screen time and hardly any dialogues make an impression.

Priya Anand plays Radha, Shashi’s other niece and constant companion. She is a good looking actress with class and appeal.

Amitabh Bachchan makes a special appearance as Shashi’s co-traveler to New York and makes an impact in two scenes that his junior has not made in his entire career.

Thanks goodness I didn’t watch the Tamil version which has the ultimate thalaivali Ajith Kumar instead of Amitabh.

Music!

Amit Trivedi’s music is pleasant but not memorable.

It goes well with the movie but I doubt if any of the songs are chartbusters.

But I would take this any day over the cacophony in most movies.

What sucked…

The day when movies become perfect I will tonsure my head completely and tattoo Priyanka Chopra’s face on it. Thankfully that day will never come. ;)

Ø Why stereotype gay characters? Although the portrayal is not undignified the role was unwarranted.

Ø The whole Laurent love segment was in my opinion stretched a little too long. Was Gauri not sure how to end it?

Ø Sridevi may have spent the best of her last three decades in Mumbai but her accent betrays her South Indian roots. She could have played a Tamil instead of a Maharashtrian and it would still be the same.

Recommendation

Go for it!

I strongly recommend English Vinglish for your entire family.

The movie is clean and entertaining for all age groups

If not anything it would at least be a redemption for your past sins of watching Ek Tha Tiger, Billa II, Joker and other such vile garbage.

Related Stories:
English Vinglish gets Thunderous Box Office Response

  10 Responses to “English Vinglish Review – Boy! The Laddoos Were Sweet!”

  1. Your review hit the nail on the head. Simple movie told well.

    Saw the movie yesterday night at PVR Cinemas. Had a better experience with respect to the seats this time.

    Sridevi is the soul of the movie, handled her role exceptionally well. Scenes where she acts as nervous wreck – at the immigration counter, or at the coffee shop were good.

    I did not like the scenes where Sridevi and Laurent talk their hearts in Hindi and French respectively. If she cannot follow English, how can she understand emotions being told in French.

    The climax speech by Sridevi was ordinary, did not have such an impact.

    May be the expectation was high because of the circumstances leading to her climax speech.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    Reviewer Naveen will likely respond to your points on the disappointing “climax speech” and how she can understand Laurent’s emotions expressed in French.

    • @ kage_11

      //I did not like the scenes where Sridevi and Laurent talk their hearts in Hindi and French respectively. If she cannot follow English, how can she understand emotions being told in French.//

      I believe the director was try to tell that love transcends language barriers but I agree it didn’t come across that well. More important, it didn’t irritate me as much as the length of those segments. Overall it wasn’t even a minor blip.

      //The climax speech by Sridevi was ordinary, did not have such an impact.//

      I think the climax speech was exactly as it should be – ordinary.

      It is not eloquent and the purpose was not to make Shashi a great orator. She has great difficulty with the language and after a 4 week course, she improves to the level of making a small speech and participating in basic conversations. The speech itself has a simple message conveyed using basic English. It made the whole thing believable and anything more would have been “filmy”.

      Secondly, on a deeper note the speech itself was accidental. It was obvious that at some point she was going to surprise her husband and daughter but the climax was more than an English speech. It was about equality, dignity and respect. It was about making a point to her family that they have been a$$holes. You will notice that it is almost accidental that she is asked to speak in the end in the context of the story.

      One tends to expect a dramatic turnaround in underdog stories towards the end and I don’t blame you for expecting more from the speech.

      Hollywood / Bollywood has made us that way. :-)

  2. howdy SI??.. hope ur doing well. Long time.

    I recall the trailer of English Vinglish to be decent but experience has taught me that no matter how good the trailer appeared to be, the movie can very well be a disaster.

    But Naveen’s review cleared all my doubts.

    Will watch this one soon.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    Hello sweetie, yes still alive and kicking creaking.

    English Vinglish seems to have received uniformly decent reviews.

    The only hope is that it’s not stolen (Barfi too got uniformly good reviews and only later was it discovered to be a cut-and-paste job).

    • I was just fearing the same thing.

      Enjoy the moment before a week later some video proves that everything was copied.

      SearchIndia.com Responds:

      Sad that if a good movie comes out of India we can’t believe it’s true because it invariably tends to be stolen.

      I blame Bollywood and its siblings Kollywood, Tollywood for this depressing state of affairs.

    • Do you know the original source of this video telling about copying of Burfee

      http://tanqeed.com/forum/barfi-scenes-inspiredcopied-from-the-notebook-charlie-chaplin-and-other-movies/

      SearchIndia.com Responds:

      Sweetie, interesting link. Thank You.

      I was not aware that Sputnik was the initial force behind the “Barfi” exposure of theft. Other people joined subsequently with their own contributions of the “Barfi copied from ….” But Sputnik deserves credit for being the original trigger.

      I had read the article in Times of India and a few other pieces but, alas, not of them credited the original source, Sputnik.

      BTW, I read some of your comments too in the link.

  3. one of Ajith’s dialogues in English vinglish tamil version.

    Visa officer : What is the purpose of your visit?

    Ajith : I want to spend a few dollars to help the American economy recover.

    These Ajith fans have been sharing this all through out facebook. That’s how I knew :P

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    That’s funny.

    But we need a lot more than a few dollars to help ‘our’ economy to recover.

    Only Dr.Captain can save us! ;)

    • @Mnx542:

      The same line sounded funny when Amitabh said it and it was well-received by the audience.

      Amitabh also adds “I can go back if you don’t want”.

  4. Watched ‘English Vinglish‘.

    Must say that it turned out to be a pleasant experience.

    A feel good movie with a delightful performance from Sridevi.

    Definitely one of the best actresses in India.

    It would be a grave mistake on my part not to mention the supporting cast. They were amazing.

    And full marks to Director Gauri Shinde (wife of Director R. Balki who directed ‘Cheeni Kum’ and ‘Paa’) for extracting convincing performances from everyone.

  5. Good review Naveen, looking forward to watch the movie this weekend.

    SI: I really hope you are aware that there are some technical issues with your blog. For the hundredth time, I got error messages such as Go, Get Lost, or GO BABY GO when I tried to access the latest posts… Hope you are not playing a prank on your readers. I am saying this because one of those messages was really rude something in the lines of “Why don’t you GET LOST”????
    Was your blog hacked?

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    Sorry, sweetie.

    I’m not blocking any of you guys.

    As I mentioned the other day to one of the other readers, there’s a conflict between two plugins (a caching plugin and access control plugin). I’ll have to get rid of one of the plugins soon.

    In any case, I’m the last person anyone can accuse of being rude. ;)

  6. Finally saw this on DVD and this review exactly reflects what I felt of this movie.

    Sridevi has done a spendid job especially that nervousness at the immigration counter – oh man that was superb acting to say the least! I want to see more of her…

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    I should check if Netflix has the DVD.

    Back in the old days, we used to drool endlessly over her.