Saturday, October 20, 2012

My Take on English Vinglish.

Recently, I watched English Vinglish (Tamil) and I am going to pen (ok, type) my thoughts about the movie here.

The story base is something that can be summed in three lines. An Indian house wife who doesn't know to speak English, is goaded by her family for the same. When she goes to the USA for her niece's wedding, she enrolls herself into English language classes. Does she succeed in learning English and does her family ever change their opinion about her? - is the essence of English Vinglish.

This movie marks the comeback of Sridevi and she does it in style. Her role as Shashi is essentially crisp and precise, typically the housewife, mother cum homemaker of Indian household. I must mention here that it's really hard for one to believe that this is Gauri Shinde's first film as a director. Where had she been for so long? Gauri's attempt at portraying a common situation in India is a success and she scores well in bringing together a string of characters from different nationalities in her Linguistic extravaganza. There's a mom like this in every one of our households. That typical mom who mops, cleans, cooks and does everything for her family and puts herself and her priorities last on the list of things-to-do! The very same woman who cannot speak English fluently and gets goaded by her children and husband for being less proficient ONLY in that one area. I could relate to the daughter character because whenever my mother came along with me for the PTA Meetings in school, she would talk to the teachers in Tamil. I wasn't embarrassed as such because this was normal and accepted in my school. Besides, where would my knowledge be if it had not been for the education she's given me? :) I still remember how she struggled to get an admission in my school (Where I studied all 13 years) and how she abandoned the admission letter from another school even after paying fees there for my pre-school. My English Vinglish proficiency comes from Scudder, where I luckily got a seat. My mom didn't complain about the fee that wasn't refunded by the other school - She was simply happy that I had made it to the Scudder admissions list even though their confirmation letter arrived late. :) And well, did I tell you that my mom went for English language classes when I was in 10th grade? She decided to make her language better and she even took so much effort to see that she could do what she aimed at. See, I can clearly relate to certain instances from the film.

Some of the scenes in the movie are like driving the nail to the wood. Shashi's fear and helplessness when she orders at a cafe in Manhattan, the way she feels little and overpowered by the lady at the counter display the true struggle of a woman in a foreign land without knowing the language. Sridevi is clearly the best choice for the role of Shashi because there is hardly an actress in Indian Cinema who could suffuse life into character like this. Most of our leading ladies prefer lesser emotions and a lot more skin shows, if I can put it the frank way. Shashi's burst of emotions when her daughter casually mocks that she is incapable of reading her scrapbook, when her husband calls her as the one born for making Laddoos, how she carefully refuses to reciprocate the love Laurent develops for her, when she blandly tells Radha that she doesn't want (Laurent's) love, but only wants a bit of respect.. These portions clearly tell us why Sridevi was hailed the best of her time nearly two decades ago. The woman can deftly score a goal in every opportunity. There's a cameo role played by Ajith as her flight companion. His tips to her - asking Shashi to enjoy her time in the USA and to let go of anxieties, makes us wish that we too could get a co-passenger as him. :-D

 In short, English Vinglish is for everyone who thinks that learning and knowing English is a must. The movie does not belittle the importance of the language, but only throws light upon the fact that one must first learn to love and respect the family, before gauging their language skills! It's an irony that one needs to know English to understand this remarkable message lying beneath the plot of English Vinglish. I would suggest this movie as a Must-watch and you would certainly appreciate the small things in life after watching it. :) Definitely Indian household moms deserve respect for all that they do, rather than just for their language proficiency.

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