Tuesday, October 16, 2012

English Vinglish---The Story of a Simple Indian Woman

After having taken a hiatus of four years from visiting the movie theater, this Monday I happened to step into one. The reason was strongly feminist and very personal as well. A movie revolving around the life of a woman was my object of interest with the trailers packing a punch for strong feminists like me. Sridevi being the second reason. This time though there was no comedy or dance to sweep you away. All that she displayed was poise and grace, stepping into the shoes of a typical  Indian woman  who was under-educated but wise.

The movie is about a middle age Maharashtrian housewife who lives with her husband, mother in law and kids in some part of Pune. She was not convent educated unlike her daughter who is studying in class seventh, which doesn't allow her to speak in the Queen's language. Even though she has a rare talent of making ladoos and is a small time entrepreneur. Both her weak English and her flair for making ladoos aren't a hit with her family. The director tellingly proves through many sequences that English is the status symbol of modern day India, and an individual's inability to converse in it can be a social embarrassment for the family.

Fate takes a different turn, when one day her sister calls her inviting her to the United States to help with her elder daughter's wedding. It happens to be a blessing in disguise when one day while out on an expedition of the city, she happens to see a notice which claims to make you affluent in spoken English in 45 days. She remembers the telephone number printed on the notice and from there begins the journey that changes her life for good.
She finds a group of friends who bond over harmless racist jokes and the language English. There are no borders in the language class and  a sensible Shashi to save the souls of the students there. She also tried to enlighten the common Indian viewer on the insensitivity towards homosexuality in a scene where her friends make fun of the homosexual teacher's heart break and she gives wisdom on why the heart doesn't understand the sex of the partner when in love.Therefore as the heterosexuals even homosexuals have the same kind of feelings when it comes to the matters of the heart.



Shashi finds a very special friend  in Laurent, the french chef who makes her believe in herself  unlike her husband who is ashamed of her wife's culinary skills and often arrogantly advises her to give away making ladoos. They both live and learn and talk their hearts out. In one of the conversations, where in Sridevi calls cooking as the duty for the women and an art for men, the director has tried to display the odds existing in the world. Both Shashi and Laurent share a common passion in cooking and have reverence for each other as opposed to Shashi's family who always belittle her for the abilities and inabilities she has. I particularly loved the scene where in Laurent admires her beauty and she runs for cover, only because she had forgotten what it is to be admired. Such was their chemistry, that they do need languages to pour their hearts out.

What I disliked the most was the portrayal of Shashi as a typical Indian woman who is rolled into her responsibilities of being a wife, daughter and mother. Why did she have to give up on her English classes when her son hurts his foot? Why couldn't the father take care of the child and let the woman discover herself as she exercises her right to education. Like the Karan Johar romance, Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, I would have loved it if Shashi could have gone to Laurent, a man who honestly respected her unlike her husband of many years.

So also, she looks gorgeous in the saris she sports and has definitely made a comeback for the intelligent Bollywood lovers.

1 comment:

sridevi datta said...

Good review ...but that is what makes the movie very special . Right from the very beginning Shashi has not been portrayed as the one looking for "love" or "Chemistry". She has been portrayed as the one seeking respect from her family members because she already respects herself . Added to that she was never the one to be frustrated with her household responsibilities ...in fact she loved every bit of her being a "mother" as much as she loved her "laddoos". The movie was never intended to be a romance ...it just looked deep into the soul of a woman :)
PS : I never liked "Kabhi Alvida..." because I cannot stand SRK ;P