English Vinglish – Close to heart

All these Mother’s day talk and I am somehow writing and watching movies related to it and feeling very very emotional. Shucks!!! I had to go and watch this long withstanding movie , of which I had heard nothing but very good reviews. In fact, one of my friend was almost selling me this movie every weekend. He was like ‘Haven’t you seen it yet? You will love it. I saw it more than twice and everytime I love it more’. So finally, just before mother’s day I did choose to see this movie, English Vinglish.

A daily life of a lot of Indian housewives I know of. I am not sure if this will be applicable to any other language too, but it is highly probable. Here is this woman, Shashi, who makes laddoos at home and sells them (sort of a mini-entrepreneur by herself) but is not good with English. In fact, she can hardly speak a few words. And her daughter disrespects her, not that she is aware of it but she does it to save her face among her friends, about her mother not being able to communicate in English. And her husband, a typical Husband of the previous generation (I am saying this because I have seen so many of them behave exactly like that and I have seen the current generation changing a lot from the typical husband behavior of those times). He needs everything to be given to him by his wife, he can’t even go to the kitchen to get his coffee from her. And he sort of stereotypes her like she is good enough only for cooking and taking care and nothing else. She is hurt lot of times, but she stands by her family always.

Then comes a change in pattern where she has to travel alone to NewYork to her sister’s daughter’s wedding. She sort of manages with her minimal English (and a guest appearance by Amitabh Bachchan here during her first flight to help her out). But an incident in a coffee shop she visits to get herself a cup of coffee spooks her. When she sees an ad for learning English in 4 weeks she decides to give it a try so that she can learn something by the time her family joins her. The class consists of a group of a people from different background (a Pakistani guy, a Tamil guy from India, Mexican nanny, French cook who sort of helps her in the cafe initially and falls for Shashi in due course, an African gay guy, a South Asian beauty parlor girl and then the teacher a gay American). She sort of sneaks herself to her classes in between the wedding preparations and one of her niece finds out and helps her too. The group warm up to each other teaching each other not only the language but also a few things about life. Shashi is not able to understand the reason why the French guy is after her. He compliments her in the class once and she panics and runs. They at times communicate in French and Hindi telling each other something which the other person cannot understand at all. But every now and then her family sort of puts her down even though she tries very hard to not reciprocate and tell them how mean they are. I really would have slapped my daughter if she was to tell me something that this girl tells Shashi. Thank God, I did not disrespect my mom like that. That doesn’t mean I was holier than thou, but still this was too much.

And then finally the dramatic even of the wedding (Indian girl marrying an American Guy and the wedding itself is typically Indian with all song and dance routines and with lots and lots of colorful dresses and flowers decorating the venue) where she gives her final speech , as part of a toast to the newly married couple, about marriage and life teaching her daughter and husband a thing or two.

It is a little dramatic but the essence of the movie is very unique and treatments is fresh and Sreedevi has done wonders. God , she still looks so beautiful. Age does show on her, but she still can give some youngsters a run for their money. I had tears during her final speech and it was definitely intended by the director (a woman). A very lovely movie to watch. I could see my mother in Shashi a lot of times. My mom can read the English newspaper from the first word to the last but ask her to speak and she will shy away. One cab driver , on my way to airport, asked me how the lady in the saree who was standing outside the airport survives the cold weather wearing that thing 🙂 I hardly wear saree so I told him I have no clue. But I do a lot of people wearing saree even in the extreme weathers. In fact I couldn’t get my mom to wear a churidhar when we went on our trip to Singapore. She indulged me for just one day and I took so much photos to show it back to my brother and sister who were shocked to see my mom wearing it 🙂

We can teach a lot of things, but to humility and respect cannot be taught – Shashi says. But then she does teach her family just that by example. There is no drama about how she doesn’t feel loved by her family and is happy that a French guy showers her with his attention. She tells that she doesn’t need love, she needs respect and it starts with her respecting herself first. I did feel a little for that French guy, he sure was cute and attentive towards her. I enjoyed this movie a lot even though it made me cry at the end.