More than one 90s queen of Bollywood has set her sights on making a "comeback" with a film that showcases her middle-age talent and beauty. Madhuri Dixit's Aaja Nachle and a more recent Aiyyaa starring Rani Mukherjee have received lukewarm responses, however a rare jewel of Hindi cinema was still to appear with the comeback of Sridevi, who held the coveted role of India's sweetheart for many a year.
I believe I have less words to express how strongly I recommend watching English Vinglish than for any other review I have written before. Quite simply because English Vinglish is much better watched than read through another viewer's eyes, as colorful or detailed critics as they may be.
The film's tale personally rang a thousand bells and pulled many heartstrings for the moviegoer I am, including the feeling of being completely helpless in a foreign culture, the judgmental stance of people who are in a better position than others, the frustration a housewife can endure when she repeatedly struggles to find respect or the abyssal freedom she may feel when she suddenly senses the spark of her empowerment. English Vinglish at instances made me vaguely recall the Marjane Sartrapi's disarming Persepolis, James L. Brook's broadminded Spanglish and other few films who explore the thoughts and emotions of those who are confronted to a new way of life and different cultural values. English Vinglish however brings a different and very welcome hue to the topic and is right up there with those wonderful filmic reflections by such respected directors and writers.
One of the most important reasons most viewers will purchase their ticket is to see Sridevi, who is back in what I consider to be her most beautiful appearance. Without excessive makeup, dressed modestly and with a discreet demeanor, Shashi (Sridevi's character) stands above her past performances as a model of class, grace and delicatesse. But concentrating on her looks would be missing the point. Sridevi has chosen an equally subtle, classy and discreet script with a role to suit and this is her major strength along with that of bringing her character to life in a way that one is left wondering if she ever made a faux-pas or a mistake in the way she was portraying Shashi. The answer is a clear: NO. She is mighty perfect! Every gesture, move of the hand, motion in her eyes is her character. What an absolute treat it is to watch an excellent actress perform!
Apart from Sridevi and her fabulous choice of script and character, there are several other good reasons to go catch English Vinglish today:
- One of Amitabh Bachchan's most charming cameos to date.
- A very moving supporting cast with a special mention for Mehdi Nebbou, who plays Frenchman Laurent, a character who is exactly where and how he should be in the story. Where most Hindi films use, in my opinion, moderately talented foreign actors when in need of them, or have the entire foreign cast speak Hindi as if they were born and raised in India, English Vinglish keeps everyone's identity and accent, has talented supporting foreign actors and this adds to the story's rich quality.
- A beautiful final statement, and here I will not say more to not reveal the story to our readers.
- Yes, this is is a "chick" theme, but guys are welcome to view it too, for the film's profound ability to put any viewer, regardless of their age or sex, in Shashi's shoes. Wah wah!
- A sweet, simple and moving story.
So what are you waiting for... Check the timings. Buy the ticket. Watch the lights go out. Plunge and enjoy the comeback.
Directed by: Gauri Shinde
Writing credits: Gauri Shinde
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