Nowadays story lines of movies are held so much in secret that, cine people might put their lives in front of it. The more they try to keep it under wraps the growth of hype and mystique around the movie grows rapidly. Here is one story, which anyone can say looking at the title itself, what its going to be about. Touted as being Sridevi's comeback vehicle, it becomes even more obvious. A central lady character, her struggles with the English language and it has to have a positive ending and so logically, she must be overcoming her hiccups and win over her troubles in the end. The forced inclusion of a cameo from Big B (Thalai in tamil version..honestly Rajini would've been a hoot on this role. Imagine Rajini Sridevi combo after all these years..avvvvvvvv) only raised more questions on the directors confidence in their own product. Despite these stumbling blocks, the movie is a winner all the way. Its not just about a lady's quest to learn a new language. Its all about gaining respect from those you consider your own. Its all about self respect.
Be it Hollywood or Bollywood or any wood for that matter, stories on underdogs are sure shot winners. Everyone roots for the underdog and more the people can relate to that character, brighter are the chances of bonanza at BO. Its been a while since we had saree clad middle aged lady characters taking center stage. Who better than "Athiroopa Sundari" to bring it to life on silver screen. In a scene where she feigns illness, to attend her English class, she would be on bed fully covered in blanket and only her face will be visible. The sheer glee on her eyes after she successfully fools her sister and the joy on her face reminds of her mind blowing performances in "Moonraam Pirai". That childish mischievous look yet vulnerable at the same time, guess very few actors can manage that. But her nose reminds of a bad imitation on Michael Jackson :)) But i love the way she does a mini usain boltish stunt each time she feels happy. Whether its feeling sad that her own daughter and husband are insulting her lack of English knowledge or happiness in playing with her son or silent pride when her classmates appreciate her and when her teacher labels her "entrepreneur" or a tinge of romance with the French guy or guilt of almost falling for him or anger when she explains her situation to him admonishing him in hindi or that shy smile when she is corrected by him that French fries are not exactly delicacies from France ( my personal favorite scene) or calmness and clarity with which she raises toast to the newly weds adivsing them on life after marriage, intha navarasam solvangalay..well..she covers them all. And in many places more than the dialog, its her expression that carries the scene. Feels like watching vintage Sachin scoring a masterful century. Some of the dialgoues are so beautifully crafted that they stay with you even after the movie is over. I loved the one that comes in the final few minutes of the movie, which Sridevi tells to the french guy- If you don't like yourself, everything around you looks bad. But if you are happy with yourself, the same things look good. Thank you for making me feel good about myself. Touche.
Rest of the cast form an interesting sidekick bunch. The English class group reminds of "Zabaan Samhaal Khe" team. The Pakistani driver guy shows semma attitude and is very confident. The tamil/teluguwala Ramamurthy, that guy looks familiar. But he is a hoot. All the scenes that he comes are absolutely humourous and the way he stresses on the syllables in a typical south indian way is a delight :) More should be said about the English teacher. Guess he must be a foreigner. But he has understood his role and has played his part to perfection. I loved that sleepy mexican nanny. Semma cute expressions and the chinese doll like lady is also sweet. Had a big argument with roomies on which movie the French guy is seen before. Very familiar face and semma natural underplayed performance. Priya Anand ...avvvvvvvvvvv...ennoda most recent crush. She looks so pretty in her tamil movies..ithula veetla irukara dressa poatukitu vanthiru solirupanga pola. She is ordinary and vara sceneslalaam srideviya adore pannikitu irukarathulaye odiduthu. Guess she must've been overawed to work with her. The scene where she hesitatntly asks Sridevi does she like the French guy and quickly adds up saying that its natural to fall for him, highlights the maturity of her character. The guy who plays Sridevi's husband reminds of Kay Kay Menon. Loved the kid who plays their son. Apdiye thooki konjanum pola avlo sweet. Songs were pretty neat too. I liked the tamil version of the climax song. Neat word play on "Ummachi" and "Um Aatchi" and the title song "English Vinglish". Foot tapping numbers.
My mom can manage english but is not confident of her spelling or vocabulary having been away from the language for so long. My sister and dad used to tease her playfully and she would take it very sportively and would respond that the very reason why she is making us study in a better school is because we shouldnt be facing her challenges. It would lead to fun filled situations and those are moments i treasure for life. Just like Sridevi's character, whenever she comes to my school for PTA, she will ask me where i sit on the class and will look at the classroom with awe. That scene in the school reminded me of my own case.When in my 6th standard my English teacher called for my mom. She started talking in English and when my mom responded in tamil, i felt so proud that she made my english teacher struggle for a reply :) something that she does to me on class on a regular basis. One more similarity. My mom also prepares yummy yummy laddus. Ohh..how much i miss them :)
This movie brought back lot of memories. And i should say, struck a chord with every audience, for even on the late night show in theater, everyone was waiting till the end credits were done and were clapping whole heartedly.
Gils verdict: go for it.
P.S: I had written a different post on the movie and after seeing it for the second time (in 2 days) it got totally changed. Want to buy a DVD of this one :)