English Vinglish Movie Review: Sweet, Subtle and Meaningful

Cast:  Sridevi, Mehdi Nebbou, Priya Anand, Sulbha Deshpande, Adil Hussain, Sujata Kumar, Shivansh Kotia, Cory Hibbs, Navika Kotia, and Amitabh Bachchan (in a special appearance).
Director:  Gauri Shinde
Producer: R.Balki, Sunil Lalla, R.K.Damani and Rakesh Jhunjhunwala
Story:
Gauri Shinde
Music Director: Amit Trivedi
Run Time: 135 minutes
Film Critic: Nayandeep Rakshit

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

An industry that has evolved a multitude of times in the past decade and an actress who hasn’t changed since she took a quite sabbatical one and half decades back: that’s the match for a film, as beautiful as ‘English Vinglish’. Busy with her family and household chores, Shashi (Sridevi) is engrossed making everything is perfect for her husband Satish, mother in law, daughter Sapna and son Sagar. But the major flaw in hard working and caring Shashi is that she does not understand much of the English language. Insulted by her husband’s silly jokes and her daughter’s taunting comments, Shashi finds happiness in making snacks and ‘laddoos’ for people, other than doing some dance moves for her sweet son. On her voyeuristic journey to New York for her sister’s marriage and a series of embarrassing incidents later, Shashi decides to join an English coaching class to improve her diction and earn the respect she deserves. For her, it was not ‘pyaar’ that she did not possess, but it was ‘izzat’ that she wanted to gain by learning English. Joing the English class helps Shashi garner the much needed self confidence and instills an air of self-pride within an otherwise docile Indian saree clad woman. From there, it’s the Sridevi v/s Angrezi battle that, amidst a lot of ups and downs finally help her succeed and triumph and emerge victorious.

Coming to the plot, the narration starts beautifully with a brief but engaging premise which develops the characters in the film to apt perfection. In a fast pacing world, where English becomes more than a necessity than a want, Gauri Shinde rides high on her superb writing skills as she presents the nation with a heart warming story that traces the journey of an average Indian housewife from the Dainik Bhaskar to the New York Times. Other than a bit of annoying slow paced scenes, the unhurried grip of the movie is an example of cinematic bliss. The movie is sweet, subtle and refreshing. Dialogues ornamenting the film throughout add to its sheen, supplying the gravitas to a rock solid plot with minor flaws. Touching and heart warming, the movie, lined with such an overwhelming message is bound to make you feel proud of your parents!

Gauri Shinde makes an impactful debut exploring the pangs of an ordinary Indian housewife who does not understand the language, to assumed conviction. Some scenes are examples of creative brilliance and that’s what makes ‘English Vinglish’ so powerful yet subtle. The dash of a possible romance between Mehdi Nebbou and Sridevi add to the sugary plot. Laxman Utekar’s cinematography deserves applause for capturing the beautiful stills of Manhattan within the quite frames of the film. Kuddos to music composers Amit Trivedi for those soothing delicious melodies that hum in your ears even after you leave the hall. ‘English Vinglish’ title song and Manhattan deserve brownie points.

The film is rather laced by gifted performances from everyone: from the protagonist to the supporting cast members. Adil Hussain as the always-busy-with-no-time-for-family man is fetching and Priya Anand is spell bounding as Radha, the supportive neice. Others like Shulbha Deshpande, Cory Hibbs and Sujata Kumar provide able support to the protagonist

And now, the sole reason why English Vinglish clicks has to be the return of Sridevi. The transformation from Shashi, Satish’s wife and Sapna’s mother to Shashi, the entrepreneur who knows how to speak in English lends her the identity that she was searching for. The entire metamorphosis is so ably portrayed by the legendary Sridevi. Sridevi commands Shashi in a way like no one else could and her emoting capabilities have not reduced a bit, for more watch her express love, anger, agony, disgust and insult in various reels of the film. Specially the scene where an antagonizing Sridevi is rebuked and embarrassed, rather harassed by a snobbish café owner needs mentioning. Refreshingly soft and ethereal, she mellows down her character wherever required and does everything with a dash of grace. Touching her acting prowess seems unmanageable and the way she casts a disarming spell over the audience does not need reverence.

Final Verdict:

The way she lives through every obstacle and hurdle in the Sridevi v/s Angrezi blitzkrieg takes the film to an exhilarating high. In one of the most high spirited films of the year, our beloved actress makes a stunning comebackof sorts and there is not even a hint of a pause or break in her maneuvers. Much to her gusto, her gutsy performance deserves a standing ovation. Watch the film for her as she also gyrates to a bit of MJ in one of the sequences. With such an inspiring and overwhelming message, this movie makes you fall in love with your mothers. So make sure you tag your moms along! And handkerchiefs, for you know what!

One word of caution: At 49, Sridevi makes an astounding debut of sorts yet again creating an indelible impact on the masses with a film that breaks her 15 year old silence on silver screen. So to all newbie and the currently ruling ‘Heroines’ of B-Town, English Vinglish seems to be an open statutory chetavni from an actress who had ruled millions of hearts two decades back and continues to do so even now.