Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Movie Review: English Vinglish (Hindi)

What happens when an ordinary, middle-class Indian housewife makes up her mind to change something about herself in order to bolster her self-esteem and earn the respect of her family? You get a wonderfully empowering movie called English Vinglish. 

Sashi Godbole (Sridevi) is a middle-aged Marathi housewife, dutifully performing her responsibilities as a wife, mother to her two children and daughter-in-law. She runs a small-time business of selling home-made laddoos (an Indian sweet), something she excels in. Despite her selfless devotion to her family, she is taken for granted and her family is insensitive to her feelings. One of the main points of contention between Sashi and her daughter is Sashi's lack of spoken English. Her daughter makes no bones about the fact that she is embarrassed by her mother in public. Sashi's businessman husband (Adil Hussain) also frequently undermines her, makes fun at her expense and fails to acknowledge her as anything more than a housewife and a laddoo maker. She gets some solace from her kind and sympathetic mother-in-law and her adorable young son who makes her feel needed. 

A trip to New York changes Shasi's life when she secretly enrolls in an English speaking crash course along with a motley crew comprising of a Mexican nanny, a Chinese hair stylist, a South-Indian engineer, a Pakistani cab driver, a French chef and an African dancer. How Shashi reinstates her foothold in her family makes for the rest of the story.

Anyone may feel it at some point of time in their life - that for some reason or the other, they are not good enough. If this feeling is combined with a burning urge to prove oneself and rise to the occasion, an ordinary person can become extraordinary. That is what English Vinglish showcases - a seemingly average and unassuming housewife showing steely grit and determination to overcome a linguistic challenge that has singled her out from her family and held her back throughout her life. The movie has a delightful message - that when you learn to feel good about yourself, everything around you looks and feels better. With a strong storyline, engaging characters and fun moments, the movie keeps the viewer hooked from beginning to end. The family dynamic in the movie seemed very real and relatable. I loved every single one of the classroom scenes. It brought back fond memories of the British television comedy - Mind Your Language which was based on the concept of an English teacher tutoring a bunch of non-english speaking foreigners in London. 

Although I have never been a huge Sridevi fan, I think credit must be given where it is due. She slips into the character of Shashi effortlessly. It is hard to believe that she has come back to acting after such a long hiatus. The emotions of timidness, embarrassment, guilt, sadness and conviction shines through her expressive eyes and body language. The supporting cast is good. I particularly liked the work of the actors who played Shashi's son and her niece. All the foreign actors who are part of the English class are good especially the sensitive French character of Laurent who harbors romantic feelings for Sashi. Amitabh Bacchan in a small cameo is a delight as always. 

New York looks oh so appealing with its towering skyscrapers, lively streets, lush parks & vibrant colors of summer. The background music and songs by Amit Trivedi are peppy with fresh and catchy lyrics penned by Swanand Kirkire. Makes me feel happy-vappy! The female version of the title track is at the top of my playlist and I can't seem to get enough of it. I listen to it atleast half a dozen times everyday! And not to forget, the brilliant designer Sabyasachi who reminds us why the sari is one of the most beautiful garments in the world. 

Kudos to director Gauri Shinde for a phenomenal debut and to her gifted cast and crew for a job well done.

I would give this movie 3.5  4 out of 5 stars (the change in rating is because I'm still smiling thinking about the movie!).  


  1. A good watch, as you mentioned good acting by Sridevi n her expressive eyes :) Amit Trivedi as usual is good at experimenting and coming out with great tunes!

  2. Yeah, it's a nice movie!! I enjoyed watching it.


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