Yes, there hasnt been a film review here for a long time. But then, one hasnt seen a film like English Vinglish for a long time either.
This film is being liked a lot. And though the title is about English, English is only the hook used to tell the story of personal achievement. Of being put down by "family" - repeatedly, almost without thinking, as a matter of course, then finding enough courage to go beyond.. and overcome that one shortcoming (if it can be called that) to emerge stronger, better, more confident.
Almost every married woman will identify with this story.. we all have families who love putting us down. Best part? They do it in the process of complimenting the wife or mother.
There is a scene in the film where everyone is going ga ga over the laddoos made by the lead protagonist. The husband of the lead (Sridevi, of course), says to the newest member of the family (a groom, not a baby), "These are the best laddoos you will ever eat. And my wife, she was born to make laddoos." That is a very telling shot - because he actually meant it as a compliment. And did not even realise its an insult to the rest of her personality. The danger of the Single Story.. as a TED speaker would put it.
The film has clear parallels with another brilliant film on the same theme - Mitr. (wiki entry here)
Since most of the shooting is on location, one cant really go wrong with the sets. The Costumes deserve a standing ovation - for everyone, and especially for Sridevi. Every single woman i know is swooning over those saris, urs truly included. But even for the supporting cast - the husband, the daughter and the class mates, the costumes are well thought out and do help to bring out the personality in very subtle ways.
The dialogues are all sooo right.. just the right sort of humour.. the right sort of emotion.. there is a part where Sridevi tells her child, "i dont know what PTA means.. but i know what parent means." i could have stood up and applauded her at that point.
Its a film that leaves one entertained and thinking.. one that comes out of the theater with you, then stays as you admonish little children calling their mother "Fat". For the first time, you look around and realise in how many small ways we gnaw at the self confidence of the women closest to us - by putting them down in such tiny ways, bit by excruciating bit.. by just not paying attention.. by overlooking the fact that unlike us, who have a life outside, these women depend on us for their daily dose of appreciation and positive feedback. They depend on us for their daily dose of adult conversation.. the kind we find easy to have at work "saari important baatein to english mein hi hoti hain na?" .. by ignoring their small, almost imperceptible cries for attention..
This is the kind of film that all tweenies of our country must watch - we have made a national sport of putting down mother in our peer group because it makes us so "cool".
One Line Review: Its a movie that should be seen. Good story, well told.