English Vinglish: Definitely a must-watch!

Published: October 10, 2012
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Sriidevi really manages to shine in her comeback! PHOTO: PUBLICITY

Yeh bar bar usse judge-mental keh raha hai, laiken mujhe toh bilkul theek lag rai hai. Mental, mental kyu keh raha hai phir?

(He keeps calling her judgemental, but I think she looks perfectly normal. Why does he keep calling her mental, mental then?)

These are the bewildered words of Shahi – a simple woman from India played by Sridevi in her comeback film English Vinglish – as she tries to follow an English movie on TV.

 Made you smile didn’t they?

Such is the tone of the entire movie – innocence and simplicity – under which lurks the very meaningful theme of how to regain your depreciating sense of self-worth and confidence.

English Vinglish focuses on just one very crippling problem faced by many people world over – a language barrier. The reason why this film made over 27 crore over the weekend is that it is so very relatable. How many of us have been in the same position where family or friends or even strangers have made fun of the way a word was pronounced or misused by us?

I remember when I was a freshman in college; I would be the butt of all jokes with my gora friends because of how I confused my “w’s” with my “v’s” and vice versa.

“Do you vant to take a ride in my new wolwo?,” my ever-teasing friend would always ask me.

Although I was able to laugh these jokes, off, most people cannot seem to do so, and a plummeting confidence level is the result.

Sridevi has depicted the role of a woman whose self-worth is at rock bottom due to her struggles with the English language so beautifully that it brought tears to my eyes. The one scene in the coffee shop where Shahi tries to order a sandwich and coffee in a café in New York especially broke my heart.

 

Yes, people can be very mean when it comes to exploiting others’ weaknesses. However, what I liked about the film was the importance it placed on family and the message it delivered,

We should never be afraid to be who we are in front of family, because the word family is synonymous with acceptance.

Aside from the very poignant messages the film successfully delivered, what I quite enjoyed was the refreshing break from the glitz, glamour and nanga-pan (nakedness) Bollywood has come to be associated with today. The movie did not showcase beautiful legs, sensuous bodies in bikinies or studs on bikes. It was simple, and reminded me of the elegance of the Bollywood of the past.

Sridevi only wore the most elegant saris and had her hair in a neat braid; she did not need to distract the audience with unnecessary shows of vulgarity. Her acting was spot on and so believable. Shashi’s role left me in no doubt that she was crippled with a fear of the English language. Moreover, she made me feel a sense of empathy when I watched her struggle. Suffice is to say that she didn’t need to resort to nudity or vulgarity to make herself shine.

In addition to this, the brief presence of Amitabh Bachchan in the film just took it to another level. I think the entire theatre was in fits during his five minutes on screen. In fact, his performance is still making me giggle. I wish his role could have been extended, but having said as much, it was enough to leave an impact.

My only criticism of the film would be – and here comes a spoiler – how could such a good looking French man fall in love with a middle-aged mother of two?

It’s just a bit unbelievable.

With that said, I believe that English Vinglish was such a pleasant change from all the rubbish that is circulating in our theatres these days.

Somebody once told me that a sign of a really good film is that you don’t want it to end. I didn’t want English Vinglish to end; in fact, I kept waiting in the theatre in hopes of a bonus scene (there is none so don’t waste your time!).

Suffice is to say that I would go watch this film again and then once more too!

Read more by Zahra here or follow her on Twitter @ZahraPeer

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Zahra Peer Mohammed

Zahra Peer Mohammed

Former Blogs Desk Head and Senior Sub-Editor at The Express Tribune. She is a business graduate from the Queen's School of Business who tweets @ZahraPeer (twitter.com/ZahraPeer). She blogs at zahrapeer.wordpress.com

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • alapan

    wow !! a good analysis of the movie..

    Even i have heard a lot about this movie…planning to go this weekend.!Recommend

  • Nandini Patra

    Good to see films that display regional variety of India. There has been too of Punjabi overdose in Bollywood. All the characters are Malhotras, Anand, Kapoor. This film had a Maharashtrian middle class woman as the main character. Also looking forward to Rani Mukherjee’s Aiyya where she plays a Marathi girl falling in love with a Tamil guy.Recommend

  • Nandita.

    I haven’t seen any promos of this film so far so this is the first time I’ve read anything about the film and the first time I’ve seen pics of Sridevi in the movie and I’ve got to say I absolutely love her look in the film ( from the pics posted above ) The saris, her braided hair, gold bangle, her black mangalsutra, watch ( titan watch with a brown strap ?) and the big red bindi… she looks soo so Maharashtrian. Is she playing a Maharashtrian woman ? She certainly looks like a Mrs Deshpande or a Mrs Kulkarni from Kothrud or Dadar. ( could even pass for a kannadiga lady actually ) It will be extremely interesting to watch the glamorous Sridevi play this role. Recommend

  • http://www.google.com USMAN MOHAMED IBRAHIM,Dubai

    What a fantabulous review, I have seen this movie yesterday but still those wonderful scenes are lingering in me and myself will definitely watch this master piece once again. Each and every character of this movie did 100% justice. Sridevi lived soulfully in the character and mesmerized everyone by her simple attire and stupendous acting skill. No other heroine would have portrayed this character so aptly like Sri did. Above all the debutant director Gauri Shinde for her flawless direction which makes everyone glued to the seat till the end (but we won’t feel that film ended and everyone wishes the film continues) .Hats off to the entire technicians and Mr Balki also for inviting Amithji to do the cameo. Amithji’s appearance may be for few minutes but he stole the show like Sridevi.Recommend

  • Ameer,Chennai

    @”My only criticism of the film would be – and here comes a spoiler – how could such a good looking French man fall in love with a 50-something year-old?”

    –Well..He’s French my dear,isn’t he? Anywayz even otherwise I do not think the plot unbelievable..Trust me, I have seen weirder stuff than a good looking guy fall for a good looking older woman..Recommend

  • rigved shenai

    She is not 50 something in the movie…
    Her daughter being a 12 year old, we can assume her to be 12+26=38 at max.(considering she married at around 24.)Recommend

  • Welcome back Sridevi!

    Superb to see Sridevi back on the screens. She’s a fine actress though completely underrated. Very smart of her to pick the right vehicle for her comeback. The film sounds delightful. There’s quite a buzz among friends in Karachi. While the review is well written, there’s one part that jars. ‘How can a good looking French man fall in love with a 50 something year old woman’. Hello? He’s hardly young himself. He’s French. And she’s in her late 40’s, not fifties. In the photograph they seem around the same age give or take a few years. And lastly. It’s Sridevi. The woman is still a stunner in a simple sari and could easily pass for 42.Recommend

  • Sarfaraz

    Nice review and sounds interesting…I understand the pressure which lack of language can put on one,,,in a slightly different context…lost in a foreign city with little money and no language. Few things are as scary and this is a perennial problem for all student travelers, who function on the breadline. Good one Zahra Recommend

  • santos

    @Ameer,Chennai:
    Well ameer try to come out from the box. There is no age bar in love. I know in asian countries it is hard for people to believe. Even in hindu religion God Krishna was in love with Radha and Radha was 7 years older than Krishna.. I feel sorry for you because you do not know the meaning of love.Recommend

  • Ashraf Gul

    Thet being far good review, ZahraRecommend

  • Bisma

    wow! good review Zahra, i will certainly watch the movie now, i have a strong feeling i’m going to love it too :)

    and hey! hey! hey! why cant a 50 year old woman fall in love with a younger guy! gone are those days when age was an issue, these days everything is accepted Recommend

  • Yousuf Shaikh

    Good review of a good movie as well. Point is that the French guy didn’t know she was a mother of two kids, and age is usually not that big of a barrier here in the west as it is made up to be in our countries for people to fall in love.Recommend

  • kaalchakra

    I have know many Indian housewives. They were also the subject of my field research work from year 1931 to year 1938.

    The movie is not an accurate portrayal of the true Indian housewife. Most of them do not fly off the US. Certainly not worth any praise.Recommend

  • http://www.nazneendhanani.com Nazneen Dhanani

    Zahra, Great Review !! A Big Welcome Back to Sridevi.Recommend

  • xx

    zahra – Her name in the film is SHASHI.Recommend

  • http://gypsy-therebirth.blogspot.com Sami saayer

    fact check alert. english vinglish has not crossed 20 crores in 7 days let alone 27 crores over the weekend. nothing against the film though.Recommend

  • abc
  • Antanu G

    @kaalchakra:
    Looks like your knowledge didn’t gain at all after 1931..Recommend

  • http://twitter.com/SamiSaayer Sami Saayer
  • http://www.kabacreations.com Vishnu Dutta

    Good review. now i want to watch the movieRecommend

  • amit

    @Sami Saayer: \bro u are wrong read current box office report from actual source .

    box office report mumbaiRecommend

  • gp65

    @USMAN MOHAMED IBRAHIM,Dubai: “No other heroine would have portrayed this character so aptly like Sri did”

    I love Sridevi too and she WAS brilliant in this movie as many others before this. I do feel though that Madhuri would have done equal justice to this character.Recommend

  • gp65

    @kaalchakra: “I have know many Indian housewives. They were also the subject of my field research work from year 1931 to year 1938. The movie is not an accurate portrayal of the true Indian housewife. Most of them do not fly off the US. Certainly not worth any praise.”

    This was not a documentary about Indian housewives in general. This was the story of one Indian housewife who happened to go to US to attend her niece’s wedding. Plus the issues in this movie (someone not knowing English being put down by the family) would not really be relevant in 1931-1938 which apparently is the period that you studied Indian housewives.Recommend

  • gp65

    @ab, @Sami Sawyer

    The difference in number is between net collections and gross collections (which includes taxes). The 27 crore is gross collection – while usually the numbers discussed are net collection.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @kaalchakra: “I have know many Indian housewives. They were also the subject of my field research work from year 1931 to year 1938.”

    Things have changed, wake up now it is 2012. No one is looking forward to hear anything nice about India from people with your kind of mentality. When do you think talibans will take over Pakistan? Have you done any field research on burqa wearing women? What do you have to say about your brother talibans who shot a 14 year old Muslim girl?
    Did you even see the movie before making these comments. Recommend

  • http://India Feroz

    Sridevi looks a stunner even at her age of around fifty. In real life her English remains atrocious though.Recommend

  • Gupt Rogue

    @kaalchakra: looks like ure still stuck in the sixth centure, you know what i meanRecommend

  • Hamid

    Watched it in Karachi last week. absolutely stunning movie. Wonderful Happi Happi Cinema. Goodjob the everlasting queen of Indian CinemaRecommend

  • Question

    Can any one help me understand what that French guy was saying….i dont knw french and really was annoyed with the director not to sub-title of what he said in french…….. :(Recommend

  • maheen

    the only film that my mom who is in her late 40s watched with me in a decade and thoroughly enjoyed so i think its a complete blockbuster…thankyou shashi u made us laugh and cry and i completely understand why the french guy fell in love with you , you are so gorgeous in the movie any guy can fall for you…Recommend