In this hiatus, Bollywood changed. It became the fiefdom of a few Khans, Kumar, Devgan and a plethora of non-actors. Acting didn’t count, what counted was style, was nudity. But Bollywood also changed for the good. Shelf Life of Actresses increased. Now, an actress like an actor could go on doing bigger roles even after marriage and kids. And this is the change that brought back my favourite heroine of all time. In which other era would you find a film written for a 40 year old actress?
English Vinglish by Gauri Shinde (Balki’s wife) does not have a mind blowingly different script. Its simple. It’s about a Middle Class wife/mother finding back her self confidence and learning English along the way. Even the treatment, the scenes are ordinary. Nothing too complex about it. It’s simple, predictable. But what makes it extraordinary, is the inherent goodness and the actress who carries the entire weight of the script on her more-than-capable shoulders.
Sridevi – plays the middle class housewife, who runs her own Laddoo Business. But she doesn’t know English, so she is constantly the butt of jokes. Her husband and her daughter are ashamed of her, and constantly put her down, because she doesn’t know English. Ofcourse, they don’t mean any harm and are looking for harmless fun, but they hurt her sentiments. Then she finds herself in New York, struggling to adjust, and applies for an English 101 class. In just 4 weeks, she not only learns a little bit of English, but also gains back her self confidence.
To say that Sridevi excels in every scene is an understatement. She doesn’t look very pretty, with a Michael Jackson nose (Botox face) she looks awkward. But then you go past looks. You look at her expressions, her eyes, her body Language. It’s a master-class in acting. Look out for the scene when she goes into a CAFÉ to order coffee in New York. She is humiliated, in that particular scene, but what’s amazing are the reactions – from awkwardness, to anger, to humiliation, to breakdown. It’s a moving scene and it’s not over dramatic.
Sridevi as “Shashi” sucks you into her life and makes you root for her. You don’t think about the predictability of the script or the useless “Zabaan Sambhal Ke” like Classroom sessions. You just want her to succeed. And that’s the power of the performance. A compulsory viewing should be arranged for the likes of Deepika Padukone, Katrina Kaif, Sonam Kapoor, Imran Khan and the plethora of actor/actresses who think they can act. They should know what is acting. Idiots.
And equal credit goes to Gauri Shinde, the director. She not only convinced Sridevi to come back, but gave her the perfect platform. She also handles the simple screenplay with ease. The camerawork is good, the background score is decent, the songs are peppy (specially Navrai Maajhi) and the editing is crisp. The support cast is also competent, and compliments Sri well. Infact a special mention to the French actor Mehdi Nebbou, who not only looks suave, but acts with finesse.
So there you have it. I think you should definitely watch it, for nothing else but Sridevi. And I am sure you will like it. It’s a 2 hour Acting 101 by a legendary actress. Welcome back. Next, please do a comedy and show them your comic timing.. again.
.Rating: 7 / 10 ( 1.5 for Sri, 5.5 for the film )
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