A quiet, sweet tempered housewife endures small slights from her well-educated husband and daughter every day because of her inability to speak and understand English.A quiet, sweet tempered housewife endures small slights from her well-educated husband and daughter every day because of her inability to speak and understand English.A quiet, sweet tempered housewife endures small slights from her well-educated husband and daughter every day because of her inability to speak and understand English.
English Vinglish is the story of Mrs Shashi Godvale,a regular home-maker from an upper middle-class household whose life revolves around doing the regular household chores. Alongwith homemaking she keeps her passion for cooking intact and within the homely set-up started a small scale business by making laaddoos. Her potential never gets the due diligence from either her indifferent husband who seem to get charged up only in bed, or her daughter who is ashamed of her mother's lack of English knowledge. It seems her lack of sophistication has even crafted the gap with her husband. She is more connected to her little son and her caring mother-in-law. Under circumstances she lands up in New York for her elder niece's wedding and eventually in an English tuition class and the story follows how her life changes thereafter. Learning a new language is symbolic of a key to regain her long lost confidence and self-esteem.
Gauri Shinde's directorial debut needs to be applauded for the sheer treatment of the film. She wrote a dignified script which never crossed the line becoming overtly-dramatic. Her skill lies in passing a relevant message without getting didactic. The film re-iterates the importance of woman in our lives. In fact it is dedicated to all the middle-class housewives who are never valued in their own household in this patriarchal society.Mrs Godvale showcases pathos of all such women who are dying under the burden of inconsequential existence even though they have significant potential unexplored. Shinde's script does justice to all the characters. The characters are simple and relatable. Mr Godvale is never depicted as a wife beating devil or an infidel husband. He is just a regular working professional who has lost interest in her wife due to cultural differences and sadly that's the scenario of most arranged marriages (still) happening in our country where the wife is not at par as husband in terms of social strata. Such a marriage becomes a compromise, unsigned deal where physical proximity is rampant but the mental bonding is like searching meaning in a RohitShetty film.
The English tuition reminds us of famous yesteryear serial "Zaban Sambhalke" where genius Pankiaj Kapoor played the Hindi teacher. There we had hybrid of cultures which created hilarious sequences due to their differences but by the end they got united under the umbrella of a common language. The setting is similar here and the students here are well-edged characters who help in elevating the pace of the film. With mixture of various cultures the experience that comes out is satisfyingly hilarious. Using the back-drop of the tuition class Shinde throws subtle hints on different issues like Indo-Pak peace, tolerance towards homosexuals and understanding them etc. She even used this medium to hint on the hypocrite mindset of male dominated Indo-Pak society as they verbally attacked the French student for openly admitting his soft corner towards Shashi. The relationship between Shahshi and the french student Laurent reminded of relationship shown in WoodyAllen's films. As she converse in Hindi and he reciprocates in French, there seem to be exchange of bouquet of emotions even though they are alien to each other's language. That's the power of feeling and mutual respect which Shashi wanted from her husband. Shashi & Laurent relationship remained as sweet and subtle as the rest of the film. The film can be summarized in one statement of Godvale where she sadly exclaimed that she doesn't need love; she needs Respect. It seems majority of the woman of India is speaking through her and with watery eyes I remember my own mother.I had even lost the opportunity to hug her and openly express my love for her which I never did while she was there beside me
Technically the film is well edited by Hemanti Sarkar. The scenes never looked dragged. Utekar's cinematography added the feel-good factor without swaying into K Jo style of escapist extravaganza. Amit Trivedi's music is, as always, rocking. He manages to surprise with every film and his music syncs with the mood of the film, never looking like a separate music album unlike most music directors' scores. Swanand Kirkire is a gifted lyricist and he proved his mettle yet again.
And special mention to casting directors (Rita & Sean Powers) who came up with some brilliant and off-beat cast for the film. Sridevi is plain brilliant as Mrs Godvale. I was never a Sridevi fan but was amused by her potential which I felt was never utilized to the fullest barring few films. She looked confident and underplayed her role to suit the character. Adil Hussain as her husband is expectantly efficient and did justice to his NSD degree. One of the finest actors, I sincerely hope this film opens more doors for him. Experienced French actor Mehedi Nebbou was fantastic in the role of Laurent and expressed with his eyes. His equation with Sridevi deserves mention. Priya Anand is spontaneous as Shashi's niece who instills confidence in Shashi's character. Cory Hibbs is rocking as the English teacher. The whole bunch of actors as the students of English tuition are superb. Rest of the supporting cast are all splendid especially the adorable kid who played Shahshi's son. Amitabh Bachchan is present in a meaningful cameo in the flight scene.
Overall English Vinglish is a simple and linear yet effective,a touching story of majority housewives of our previous generation. While we are heading towards a more independent society we sincerely hope the mindset towards our woman changes so that we can Really be Proud of our culture and parampara.Hope the time is not far away with more Godvale's understanting their worth and fighting to earn back their dignity rather than letting oneself to be a subject of sympathy.
- Oct 7, 2012