Rating: 3/5 stars (Three-Stars)
Star cast: Sridevi, Mehdi Nebbou, Priya Anand, Sulbha Deshpande, Sujata Kumar, Shivansh Kotia, Navika Kotia, Adil Hussain, Cory Hibbs, Amitabh Bachchan (special appearance).
What’s Good: The nuanced screenplay and cinematography; the effortless direction; the touching performances; the music.
What’s Bad: Some characterizations; tries a bit hard to get emotional; the slow pace.
Loo Break: Not really.
Watch or Not?: This light-hearted movie is a lovable watch for Sridevi, the direction and the music, though the forced emotional quotient might get to you.
User Rating :
Towards the climax of English Vinglish you’re expecting Sridevi’s big English. Instead of crescendo music or an erudite theatrical of the Queen’s language, Sridevi pips up with a soft but firm, “May I?” There’s something so nuanced about this moment that you can’t help but applaud for those two words though they’re not the typical claptraps.
Laddoos are how Shashi’s (Sridevi) husband knows her. Her daughter remembers her to hunt down missing scrapbooks and the son wails for her when he gets hurt. Shashi runs a little catering business from her home but when it comes to English skills, let’s just say that the laddoo crumbles. Shashi’s daughter is embarrassed to take her for PTA meetings and sniggers at her mom’s language behind her back (with her father in tow). As if that isn’t bad enough, Shashi now has to stay in the US for 5 weeks to help her sister plan for her niece’s wedding.
After an unnerving experience at a café, Shashi decides to sign up for English tutorials without informing her sister and family. It’s almost a double-life for Shashi – with her judgmental family on one side and her classmates who like and respect her (one of them, Laurent, even has a huge crush on her) on the other. And she has her cute niece (Priya Anand) to help and cover up for her.
But how will Shashi continue her classes once her husband and children join her in the US? And where does this crush lead to? Does Shashi conquer the English language?
English Vinglish Review: Script Analysis
There was always the danger of an Indian learning English turning into another Zabaan Sambhaal Ke. But not with Gauri Shinde. Kudos to her for writing such a fine story and raising the movie to such poetry on screen. Instead of dialogue after sobbing dialogue, you see Shashi run behind her husband with a water bottle, close the fridge after him: you don’t need a voiceover or dialogue reinforcing her status here. And no, she’s not rescuing her wayward niece from rape or teaching her conniving in-laws a lesson to prove herself. The dialogues are very good though Sridevi can go into preach-mode at times.
The first half of the movie could have been a bit faster. Considering how meek Shashi is shown to be, her going out to find the English class across town all on her own is far-fetched. Once she has been established as the disregarded housewife, adding further to it just seems like trying to milk the audience’s tears. Shashi’s husband and children have not been characterized well (heartless mostly).
English Vinglish Review: Star Performances
There’s a reason why people get nostalgic about the actors of then, and Sridevi, as Shashi, is nothing short of reminding us why. She is the hero of the film, the loving mother, yearning wife, earnest student… you could just wax eloquent about her. There are moments when the trembling meekness gets to you, but they are very rare.
You could just stare at Mehdi Nebbou as Laurent while he tries to woo Shashi. Priya Anand is lovely as Shashi’s supportive niece. Sulbha Deshpande (as Shashi’s mother-in-law), Sujata Kumar (as Shashi’s sister) and Shivansh Kotia (as Shashi’s son) suit their roles to the T. Navika Kotia does fine as Shashi’s daughter but she appears too spoilt as is Adil Hussain as Shashi’s husband. Cory Hibbs shines as Shashi’s chirpy English teacher David Fischer. Amitabh Bachchan’s special appearance tips a bit to the annoying side between cute and over-the-top.
English Vinglish Review: Direction, Music & Technical Aspects
Gauri Shinde makes a fabulous debut as director. Amit Trivedi’s music is really good, especially the Navrai Majhi (excellent timing, especially when Shashi introduces her classmates) and title tracks. Editor Hemanti Sarkar has done an apt job. Laxman Utekar’s cinematography gives you such wonderful scenes. The script, the performances, the cinematography, music sync gorgeously on screen.
English Vinglish Review: The Last Word
Forget comebacks and special appearances, watch this movie for a woman who steps out of her family’s shadow and learns to love herself.
English Vinglish Trailer
English Vinglish released on 5th October, 2012.
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