Saturday, October 6, 2012

Comeback Vomeback

Sridevi makes her much-awaited comeback and unlike the long list of disappointing comebacks, English Vinglish has substance to match Sridevi's style. Gauri Shinde's maiden venture is a heart warming tale of, what can only be called, the woman next door.

The film tells the story of a Pune-based housewife, Shashi Godbole who is a homemaker and a mother of two kids -- a son and a daughter in her teens. Embarrassed by her inability to comprehend English, tired of being ridiculed by her husband as someone who's "born to make laddus" and being constantly taunted by her daughter at home, she enrolls herself in a crash course to learn English while in New York for her niece's wedding.

For what it is meant to be, English Vinglish is a little too in-your-face. In putting the point across, the subtlety of existence of a housewife appears lost. Some of the instances in the film which lead to Shashi feeling hurt feel a little melodramatic, contradictory to her grin-and-bear attitude. The English classes Shashi joins are a consortium of racial stereotypes -- a Mexican nanny, a Pakistani cab driver, a South Indian software developer and a professor. The class also includes a French chef (Mehdi Nebbou) who falls for Shashi, and over time restores her self esteem.

But just as the film reaches its crucial final third, it picks up pace and saves itself from what could have been a huge narrative mess. Shashi proves her point to her family and fulfills all responsibilities of a good wife and mother. But more than what happens in the end, the film scores its points in how it happens. It leaves you satisfied with the way things turned out for Shashi, without having broken any hearts, well, except maybe a French one.

Sridevi's portrayal of a Maharashtrian woman falls short definitely, but the Punjabisation of a Marathi wedding song compensates for the same. The rest of the cast play secondary roles to her and do their job well. With exceptions to a few smart-ass punchlines which the film could have done without, it is a great viewing experience. The first-time director shows she has a story to tell, and knows how to too.

To sum it all up, English Vinglish is a great entertainer and a good-spirited boost for a woman tired of the mundane in her life. And as for Sridevi, who is, without doubts, the epicenter of this film; bhagwaan aisa comeback sabko de.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Published in DNA After Hrs (Pune) on October 6, 2012

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