The opening moments of the film… the quintessential Indian house wife.. up early, preparing breakfast for her kids, coffee for her husband and paratha for her mother in law… grabs the Hindi morning daily and her face is revealed… (Yes it has been a 15 year sabbatical for
@SrideviBKapoor, a pretty long one at that) it brought about a smile across many faces. I wasn’t an exception.
Due credit must be given to writer-director Gauri Shinde for creating “Shashi” a simple yet effective character to narrate a story which 90% of Indian middle and upper middle class can effortlessly relate to. The problem however for Shashi is that she is taken for granted and all she cares about is a little RESPECT from her own daughter and husband.
Shashi runs her own small but flourishing Motichoor Laddu (which by the way if you are living in HYD, try at Sampradaya sweets) business which her husband doesn’t even care about. At one point, she even asks…
“Kya important baatein sirf English mein hote hain kya???”.
The real problem comes when her husband forces her to attend their daughter’s PTA meeting as he can’t make it. She feels sorry, for her daughter feels embarrassed as her mom can’t converse in English and doesn’t even know what PTA stands for. Things get messier when she has to visit New york to help her sister with her niece’s wedding. I love the scene when a VISA interviewer asks her “How do you think you can manage in the US without knowing English” to which his Indian colleague replies..”like you are managing in ours without knowing Hindi”.
En route to New york, she is helped out by a fellow traveler (a wonderful cameo from @SrBachchan who when asked his purpose of visit to the US casually says..”to feed your country, spend a few dollars since your economy is down”) Shashi decides to attend a four week English speaking course (after she makes a fool of herself trying to order a sandwich and a coffee in a local cafe) where she makes new friends. The conversations between Shashi and her new found french friend (although they hardly understand each others’ languages)who asks her out for a coffee repeatedly is a joy to watch. When her instructor calls her an ‘entrepreneur’ which is the first word she learns, feels like she’s on top of the world… she even does a Micheal Jackson on the streets of Manhattan.
Things get messy when her family shows up a week earlier than planned as she has to sneak out to attend her English classes. Her family however continue to pull her leg and at a point, her husband says.. “Meri biwi sirf laddu banane ke liye paida hui thi…”
The film ends on a warm note when the family raise a toast to the newly weds and when her husband gets up to say that his wife isn’t very good with English, Shashi stops him saying “May I..” and gives her version of what Marriage means and how trust and mutual respect keep it alive… of course in English.
The casting was spot on and Sridevi was a class apart. She isn’t called the female Amitabh Bachchan for no reason. Amit Trivedi’s sound tracks blend beautifully with the mood and the kid who played her son was adorable. It is always a nice feeling to see people leaving with moist eyes and a sense of feeling good about themselves.
Bottom line: English Vinglish revels in its simplicity. Don’t miss it.