Wednesday, October 25, 2023

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Movie Review : ‘English Vinglish’

‘English Vinglish’, an Indian family drama led by a female protagonist, will leave you motivated and thrilled at the same time, as it convincingly portrays that it's never too late to start something.

By Meenu Prasad

Friday, October 20, 2023

The story centres on a woman named Shashi (Sridevi) who, due to her traditional values and language problems, is not appreciated in her family. She visits New York for a brief time, where she starts to learn the language and acquires respect. With her reality starting to take shape, as a result, she starts to gain the confidence that nobody in her family had ever placed in her. 

The movie’s writing deserves praise for being exceptionally well written, as the plot alone is not what makes it unique. A woman’s emotional journey from how she is treated at home, outside of her home, and in a foreign nation has been considered in the movie. This movie also focuses on the journey she takes as she learns what true support system is (the scene where she learns it from her elder sister, who talks about her late husband being very supportive that she is now in a good position in a foreign society) and how easy it is to acquire one.

Character establishing has been done in the most conventional manner, “on how efficient and devoted a loving lady is,” by keeping the opening shots of the protagonist where she wakes up before everyone else, makes a cup of coffee for herself, cooks meals for the entire family, and finally sits down with her coffee to relax a bit before everyone else comes out calling her name, looking for her to meet their needs. The end of the opening shot is shown as the protagonist’s untouched coffee that had turned cold.

The same woman is also corrected in a sarcastic manner by her husband and daughter after they make fun of her for mispronunciation of English terms (the scene where instead of jazz dance she says it as JHASS dance). She lacks a solid education in the English language, and the little she does know isn’t truly pronounced right. Throughout the entire play, this ridiculing and humiliating behaviour occurs in various sequences.

One day, she receives a phone call from her older sister, who has made her home in New York, telling her that her older daughter is getting married; due to the family schedules and commitments, she must travel alone, that too to one of the most English places on earth, and for a duration of five weeks.

This turns out to be her hardest obstacle yet, and after numerous setbacks on the trip and on the first day in New York, she becomes rather determined to try her luck in the 4-week English master lessons. She enrolls in the class in confidence and starts to pick up the language. Along with that the world around her changes, which benefits her largely. She begins to be identified as an entrepreneur, as she owns a small catering business; a French man falls in love with her; Americans admire her; she gets all the love and respect which she never received from a place she wanted the most from. And all of this with her own handwork and determination! 

The nicest scenario in this film is when her family discovers that she has gained a fine language skill through a public gathering in the climax; it was an activity that started out of curiosity and emotion. 

They advise saving the best for last.

Casting: Sridevi plays the lead character Sashi in this movie, thus it is needless to mention that she is a national award winner known for her playing prowess. Her inventiveness in executing a kind woman who enjoys cooking is so relatable. There are also additional supporting actors that performed admirably and are well worth watching. 

English Vinglish is a 2012 Indian Hindi-language comedy-drama film, written and directed by Gauri Shinde.

At its 2012 Toronto International Film Festival premiere, English Vinglish received a 5-minute standing ovation.

Watch option: Amazon Prime Video