The world of movies is a world full of imagination, of some stories told well, of humans, of emotions, of many commonplace instances, and of some stories bizarre and wild. Any wonder then why movies are one of the most liked source of human entertainment? Who doesn’t like a story well narrated? Remember, how as children, we use to get lost in stories out grandparents read out to us?
I think it is more difficult to tell a simple story with simple characters that have no hero-esque qualities in them to make them stand out. The story of a plain man or a woman. The story of ordinariness.
This Sunday, after much deliberation whether it is a good idea to get out of bed and get that ass moving, I decided to see Sridevi’s comeback film “English Vinglish”. So my brother, my sister-in-law and I decided to go to the multiplex not-so-near us, as surprise-surprise, tickets at the multiplex near us were completely sold out. So this also added to our expectation from the movie. And I must say I was not disappointed. It is a simple nice movie. I loved it.
My bhabhi (hindi for brother’s wife) and I bought our popcorns and the brother gorged on oily, unhealthy Samosa even before the movie started, and then we settled in our reclining seats.
I tell you no movie experience is complete without seeing at least half a dozen ads on insurance and mutual funds that are subject to market risks. And these ads are so boring, so uninspiring and so irritating that you wonder why you are subjected to this torture before every movie, should you decide to be on time.
Anyway. The movie starts with Sridevi (Sashi in movie) being made fun of by her very intelligent English-speaking daughter for her wrong pronunciation of the word “Jazz”. And suddenly I get nudged not-so-softly by my bhabhi, “What’s wrong with her nose? She isn’t that charming anymore. Why has she done that awful rhinoplasty? It has only made it look all the more awful.”
“Ssshhh… It’s not compulsory to comment on her nose everytime you see her,” I say rolling my eyes. This was I think the 100th time she would have commented. It is like everytime she sees her on screen, she itches to comment on her stupidity.
Ok, so let’s not digress. Sashi is a plain Hindi-speaking housewife and a mother of two. Her son in the movie deserves a special mention as he is a bundle of cuteness. Her daughter must be in her 5th or 6th grade and is very haughty. Her husband is shown to look like some VP, CEO of some big company, though he is not as arrogant as the daughter, he makes innocent sounding insensitive remarks time and again on Sashi’s lack of sophistication. And lack of sophistication basically means lack of English here. He also has a tendency to hug nice, sexy looking colleagues easily, but not hug his wife. She is plain after all.
Sashi is a loving, diligent mother who runs a small, successful business of making ladoos from home. She is a passionate cook and everyone, including her sometimes thoughtless family, loves what she dishes out. But through various remarks on various occasions, Sashi is made to feel very insignificant, very small, very inferiorly complex-ed and very less of herself.
She feels handicapped and completely cut out at social-dos because she can’t communicate in English. So once, her well-accomplished English-speaking and pretty-ladies-hugging husband is unable to make it to their daughter’s school for PTA and hence she is forced to go. Predictably, Sashi is befuddled and looks completely lost at school. Her daughter is highly embarrassed even to introduce her mother to parents of fellow students and her friends because she is Hindi-speaking. She cuts in and speaks for her mother whenever someone asks her mother a question, so that she doesn’t have to face the embarrassment of being a daughter of a woman who is so uncool, who can’t even talk in English. Yes, she is very conceited little girl that way. Sashi requests the teacher to speak in Hindi, who does as bad a job of communicating in Hindi as she does of English. This leaves our snooty little girl even redder in the face. On their way back home, she rebukes her mother for being such an embarrassment. My heart goes out to her. This must be happening with many a mother.
As circumstances would have it, Sashi is forced to fly alone, all the way to THE US of A to attend her niece’s wedding. And no prizes for guessing that she feels like an Alice in Wonderland in New York. Because obviously, everyone only speaks in English. She is at her awkward best. She is reeling under pressure from this sudden onslaught of English language on her from everywhere and is drowned in the ocean of inferiority complex, until her eyes fall on‘Speak fluent English in 4 weeks’ ad on a bus. With lot many apprehensions and much deliberation, she finally enrolls for the class.
Class is fun, and our Mrs. I-am-lost, finds her lost self back. She begins to learn genuinely and even gets some of her confidence and self worth back. She makes friends, and feels lively once again. She actually starts enjoying life, away from family but even that makes her guilty. Because all throughout she has been made to feel so small and so insignificant. As if her only purpose of existence is cooking meals and looking after her family’s needs. So she feels guilty of not missing her family as much as she thought she should. But she enjoys her class, she learns hungrily, practices diligently and feels alive. Finally.
P.S: A special mention of her Pakistani classmate “Salman Khan”. He is so adoringly funny and leaves no chance to impress that “pink and beautiful” Chinese classmate in his broken English.
So, I am not telling you how the film ends. I am sure you can predict it yourself if you have been seeing Hindi movies regularly. In the end, everything rights itself. And if it doesn’t right itself, it’s not the end. How true!
But this movie gives us all some food for thought. How insensitive we can be sometimes, albeit unknowingly, to people who are less than us in some way! How easily we judge people! How some people make fun of less talented people easily! How we judge people based on the language they speak! How we judge people on how they look, how they dress! How we always judge a book by its cover! How presentation and packaging of a product influences our choice and opinion of it!
There is much more to people than what is on the surface. Every person is special in some way; everyone has a story to tell. Everyone is good at some things and bad at some others. We should refrain from bucketing people in some pre-defined categories we have in our minds based on their language, gender, skills, and economic status. We should be less judgmental and more loving, less critical and more understanding, less pompous and more helpful. Because human potential is infinite, whatever our mind can perceive, we can achieve. We all need encouragement, we all need love. We all have our limitations, we all have our inhibitions. What matters most is how we tackle them and how we move around them.
I leave you with this hilarious trailor. Do watch: