November Issue 2012

By | Arts & Culture | Movies | Published 12 years ago

After a long hiatus of 15 years, Sridevi, once touted as the ‘Queen of Bollywood,’ makes her comeback in what is one of the finest performances of her career in English Vinglish. Director Gauri Shinde, too, shines in her directorial debut, narrating a story that strikes the right chords with her viewers.

The film revolves around Shashi Godbole (Sridevi), a dedicated housewife and perfect homemaker, who not only takes care of her husband, children and mother-in-law’s needs but also runs a catering business from home to earn some money for herself and alongside fulfill her passion for cooking. But she is taken for granted by her husband, Satish Godbole (Adil Hussain), and her young daughter, Sapna, who constantly ridicule and mock her for the one thing she lacks: good English-speaking skills. Sapna feels embarrassed to introduce her mother to her friends and Satish, a busy businessman, has little time or regard for his wife and on many occasions he derides her by saying, she was “born to make laddoos,” leaving Shashi hurt and angry.

Fate intervenes and Shashi travels to America on her own to attend her niece’s wedding; her family is to join her later. The trip opens up a whole new world to her. Shashi secretly registers for a 4-week English conversational skills class. There she meets a group of people who, just like her, are ridiculed and face various obstacles due to their inability to converse properly in English. Among them is a soft-spoken French chef, Laurent (Mehdi Nebbou), who develops a soft corner and feelings for Shashi. With her family’s arrival in the US, Shashi finds it difficult to juggle her domestic duties with her English classes and she decides to opt out of her class as her language exam clashes with her niece’s wedding. Incidentally, her niece Radha, who is the only person privy to Shashi’s little secret, invites all her aunt’s classmates to her sister’s wedding, where Shashi delivers a heartfelt and emotionally stirring speech in English, much to the shock of everyone present, including her daughter and husband, who suffer pangs of guilt and embarrassment. In her speech, Shashi also thanks Laurent for helping her achieve an inner peace and also for helping her to fall in love with herself again.

Overall, English Vinglish is a complete winner as it manages to hold the audiences from beginning to end. Sridevi’s performance is definitely the backbone of the film. Her sensitive portrayal of the unappreciated mother and wife brings a lump to you throat.

This film carries an important message: realise your worth, combat your drawbacks and discover your strengths as an individual.

This movie review was originally published in the November issue.