Sridevi outdid herself in English Vinglish (EV). Bravo. What a comeback. Restrained, sweet and moving performance by everyone. But then EV is not about Sridevi. But as much as cine-goers are excited about seeing an actress who has been away from filmdom for more than 14 years, the debutant director of her comeback vehicle, Gauri Shinde, deserves the most applause for an uncomplicated and touching story of a woman not knowing English and trying her best to get acceptance from her own family.
That brings us to the woman in question, Shashi (Sridevi’s character in EV) who is the soul and passion of EV.
EV tells the story of Shashi, a middle-class housewife who is mocked by her family for her inability to speak English properly. She fumbles, mispronounces words and is ridiculed by the people closest to her – her husband and teenage daughter. When Shashi finds herself in the bustling landscape of New York — to help plan for her niece’s wedding – she tries to master the English language in order to gain confidence, and more importantly, as said by her, “…I need THE respect from my family”.
While she is feeble in one department and never unseen beyond that, Shashi was established as a very forward thinking woman who does not mind her teenage daughter spending time with her friends at coffee shops or wearing miniskirts to trying wine while flying alone to New York, and hello what about her showing a very strong support over alternate sexuality as being ‘normal’ as gay (majority of gay community idolize and literally worship Sridevi, this thought will only make it more stronger. Yay!!!) But the top most thing about EV is, it does not show Shashi as helpless or lament over her weak point (she just want them to accept her the way she is and respect her), rather it puts her in the foreign land where everything is strange to begin with!
She does not want to master the language but rather take English learning classes to converse correctly/properly with her family. The final speech (I love the way how it was not perfect), where Shashi talks about loving your family irrespective of their flaws and accepting them whole heartedly, silence all her near and dear ones.
Somewhere we all have/had that weakness (EV focused on the language it could be anything for anyone) that took away self-confidence level from our lives. How many of us in reality fought and care-a-damn to that weakness? Or how many of us sat in the corner sobbing over the very same weak point.
I had known a dear male friend way back in college with an awfully girly voice and knew that nobody in family or friends (he literally had none actually) took him seriously. This took a heavy charge on his personality. Is he to be blamed for this? It did not make him bad boy. He was very good in studies, artistic and a helpful friend. I guess somewhere the whole episode made him more of depressing, offensive and hostile to many things. He used to look for excuses to avoid school or gatherings. And most of the time, used to shut from the reality, till another very dear friend introduces him to a yoga instructor who with few techniques converted his girly voice into a manly one. And voila he was ‘accepted’!?
Know another friend who used to get bully for being fat and dark. He did not feel sorry for himself, rather started making friends who accept him the way he is. Kudos to him.
An aunt of mine dint knows ABC of computer and was considered ‘illiterate’ by her own son. Although she was educated and could converse very well in English, but that one missing link in her life made her low in her own son’s eye. I knew how hard she tries to learn and prove herself to her own blood.
Let’s make it a point from now on to be considerate to one and all. Let’s not look down upon someone for their flaws. Remember we have many as well. And lastly, let’s love one and all.
“English Vinglish” is more than just an English lesson – it’s a feel good film that opens our eyes and our hearts to characters like Sridevi’s Shashi. And three cheers to director Gauri Shinde, for making such a soul-touching movie.
You will fall in love with Sridevi all over again. It's a fantastic tribute to motherhood and womankind. Make sure you take your folks along. The perfect way to say, ‘I love you, mom.’
By the way my English no good…so am off to master it, not to impress anyone but to feel good about myself. J