Ami on English Vinglish

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

Over the past few years, two adjectives have been used increasingly often in conjunction with Hindi Cinema: modern and subversive. In my opinion, these words are mostly used unsuitably, never more so than when describing the heroines of recent Hindi Cinema. There is little that is modern or new about a harshly condemned sex symbol who commits suicide or a sexy party girl who loses her man to a more homely woman; these are some of the oldest narratives in the book. Even in the rare instances when these heroines actually happen to be liberated women, there is always a comforting sense of otherness about them; it’s impossible for even the most conservative member of the audience to be perturbed by the modernity of a woman who is so clearly ‘westernized’ and so far removed from any conventional notion of an Indian woman. Gauri Shinde’s masterstroke then, is to make a heroine out of that most enduring (and unassuming) symbol of traditional Indian womanhood, the sari-clad mother and wife.

This is a character who is one of the most omnipresent archetypes in our media: the self-sacrificing maa of Indian cinema, the quintessential housewife of Indian advertising. We’ve seen her a million times before, yet we’ve never seen her quite like this. And that’s because this film is not about a mother worrying over the wellbeing of her gangster son (as in the masala movies), or about the housewife who is concerned for her husband’s health (as in the adverts for low-cholesterol oil) and her baby’s sensitive skin (as in the adverts for diapers); in English Vinglish, it’s Sashi Godbole’s own dreams, feelings and ambitions that are at the forefront. And by showing us the world through Sashi’s eyes, (where a few minutes of peace to pursue the newspaper is an impossible desire, where the subway station metro card represents an almost insurmountable obstacle and where callous condescension and cruel barbs are an everyday staple at the dining table) Gauri succeeds in making us view the many Sashis of this world in a different light.

There is so much about Sashi Godbole that is so familiar, and every viewer is bound to see a glimpse of his/her mother, grandmother, sister or wife in her. And yet, Sashi’s character is far from being a Bollywood cliché: how often is that you see a Hindi film where the romantic attentions of an attractive suitor are merely the means to the end, and not the goal itself? But that is precisely what happens in English Vinglish: when Sashi attracts the attentions of a hunky French chef she doesn’t lose herself in either the rain-drenched, chiffon-clad dreams of our bashful heroines or in the frat boy fantasies of our heroes. Instead, Sashi reacts in the manner of a very mature and intelligent adult, prioritizing respect and self-empowerment over infatuation.

When the typical Indian mother and wife is presented to us so persuasively as an unappreciated artist, it is but natural that Satish and Swapna aren’t the only ones who feel guilty when Sashi delivers her winning speech during the film’s final scene. The audience feels a slight twinge of unease as well, for taking for granted the Sashis in our own lives. And this is why I am grateful to Gauri Shinde and Sridevi for giving us a cotton sari-clad, Marathi-speaking, laddoo-making housewife who can accurately be described using those oft-abused adjectives: modern and subversive.

233 Responses to “Ami on English Vinglish”

  1. Alex:

    Wow Amy –that’s a brilliant piece.
    And since it was BY a female about a predominantly female related theme /movie protagonist, it is more insightful & valid
    Deserves a separate thread in my book
    Ps: thought u could also add what u loved about sridevis portrayal
    & yes : u missed her niece !! Haha

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    • Thanks Alex 🙂 I think that all that needs to be said about Sridevi’s performance has already been said- on the other hand, I don’t think that enough has been said about Gauri Shinde’s fantastic film making choices, hence my note.

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  2. Thanx satyam for agreeing that Amy’s piece deserves a separate thread !
    Continued from my earlier comment–
    To add —
    Have been reading about his ‘final speech’ being the pinnacle of this film and sridevis acting!
    I differ –yes it was subtle and sensitively done by Bollywood standards.
    But there was enuf ‘buildup’ going its way and sridevi rightfully hit the half volley well!
    But what elevated her performance from the good/v good category was around ‘gustaakh dil’ …that was something not for an above average performer …

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  3. Ami: what a wonderful piece; it makes everything clear, the way a bell does.

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  4. @ amy– my only ‘criticism’ will be that u seem to having too much to say here but appear to be ‘holding back!’
    As if operating in a ‘word limit’ ( also a problem with Anya! Lol)–
    That’s what appendices are for ..
    In the matter of ‘brevity’, we should learn from satyam 🙂

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  5. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    “Even in the rare instances when these heroines actually happen to be liberated women, there is always a comforting sense of otherness about them; it’s impossible for even the most conservative member of the audience to be perturbed by the modernity of a woman who is so clearly ‘westernized’ and so far removed from any conventional notion of an Indian woman. ”

    You nailed it there. That is exactly what i have been pleading for. Stories of our lives. That is exactly what Chetan Bhagat offers as against the exotica served up by the more literary authors ( What a pity his writing seems to be going from bad to worse.)

    But kudos to Gauri Shinde also for knowing how not to convert it into a boring neo-realistic docudrama or a feminist message-laden tirade. Just like Hirani she has the innate flair for embellishing her material with fictional flourishes and the ability to take those exhilarating leaps of imagination.

    2012 is really turning out to be the banner year for ‘meaningful’ Hindi cinema.

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    • The film is no tirade but it is certain laden with a feminist message- but I agree that Gauri did a very good job weaving feminism into a ‘traditional Indian family values’ based film in a way that will not alienate even the most traditional members of the audience. I thought that the Sashi-Laurent thread was especially well-handled in this regard.

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  6. This is one great year for Hindi cinema, agreed; but a big shabash to the Indian audience for patronizing good cinema.

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  7. Just read this…Ami Ma’am, what a fantastic piece here- that two of the best writers of the blog have decided to write something on the film means there must something really good in it

    and I loved the way that it’s instead of writing a regulation review, u have actually done a ‘slant’ of sorts on the depiction of housewives in Bollywood.

    It goes without saying that ur first paragraph is a splendid one- a hard-hitting critique of today’s films and film culture in Bollywood where every second film is ‘path-breaking’ and which is supposed to cause a paradigm shift

    This para is an absolute gem- “There is little that is modern or new about a harshly condemned sex symbol who commits suicide or a sexy party girl who loses her man to a more homely woman; these are some of the oldest narratives in the book. Even in the rare instances when these heroines actually happen to be liberated women, there is always a comforting sense of otherness about them; it’s impossible for even the most conservative member of the audience to be perturbed by the modernity of a woman who is so clearly ‘westernized’ and so far removed from any conventional notion of an Indian woman. “- Loved the way u have taken a potshot at Cocktail…my commiserations to Alex

    And this piece ties in so well with some of ur earlier ramblings abt the stereotypical depiction of heroines in hindi films

    ” And that’s because this film is not about a mother worrying over the wellbeing of her gangster son (as in the masala movies)”-

    Now I agree that such a Masala mother became a caricature later but even if they were archetypes, they were not ‘lifeless ones’- there was a ‘vitality’ in them (just like in every other Masala archetype) which separated them from today’s caricatures- i will prefer my Nirupa Roy wailing over her son’s death any day over the dumb chick pouting endlessly in Johar’s films (who also apparently studies in a ‘prestigious school’- of course some of the unlucky ones like me never encountered such girls )

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    • Saurabh- you are far too kind- but pelase don’t call me ma’am! 😛 I’m around the same age as you!

      “i will prefer my Nirupa Roy wailing over her son’s death any day over the dumb chick pouting endlessly in Johar’s films”

      LOL! Fair enough! I’ll take Nirupa Roy over many of the so-called ‘modern’ heroines as well.

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      • Saw EV yesterday and liked it a lot Ami. I am not one of those sentimental types who gets teary-eyed easily but this one moved me (and as u aptly mentioned, i too kind of felt a bit uncomfortable while watching since somewhere i too felt the guilt of being not-so-nice with my mother at times during some of my adolescent years). And now I see the value of the ‘feministic gaze’ in ur piece even more. The thing i like abt ur writings is that u always tend to offer a commentary on a set of issues in ur pieces

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  8. Great set of thoughts Ami!

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  9. Rajenmaniar Says:

    Great piece, Ami.
    Saw the film and liked it immensely. Inspire of some valid criticism, it remains a very like able and a well crafted film. No one could have played sashi as effectively as Sri. A phenomenal job by her and Gauri. So beautifully handled AND written . And acted.

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  10. What message has the film sent across? That you won’t be respected unless you speak in English?

    Much as I enjoyed the film I would have been satisfied if she had discovered self confidence in her own right as an entrepreneur rather than in learning then giving a speech in English. A woman should be respected as a mother worrying about the baby oil for her baby or as a wife, worrying about the cholestrol level in the food. It’s the upbringing and thinking of men and children that has to change, not those woman who want to do the aforementioned things for their babies and husbands. These are not unimportant things.
    Problem is -*** taking for granted. ***
    My favourite line in the film about when a woman cooks it’s just regular, but when a man cooks, it’s art.

    It is a much better film compared to the usual bollywood stuff, and the sari clad heroine was a treat to watch.

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    • I think you’ve misread my piece completely- I’m not saying that women should be disrespected for worrying about their husbands or children- I’m saying that their love shouldn’t be taken for granted- that it shouldn’t be assumed that they have no needs of their own just because they look after to the needs of others. The only way that the woman can be respected as a mother and a wife is if she is also viewed as an individual in her own right- which is a point that this film puts across beautifully IMO- it shows that even if a woman is a traditional house wife who is constantly striving to satisfy the whims and fancies of her family, it doesn’t mean that she has no desires and dreams of her own.

      I also do not think that the film endorses the view that you shouldn’t be respected if you don’t speak English- at the end of the film, Sridevi does turn down the NYT and ask for a Hindi newspaper instead- which shows that she is comfortable in her own skin. Learning English was simply a way for her to gain confidence – as Utkal said in another thread, learning English could have been replaced with almost any other activity such as getting a job, learning to drive, learning to use a computer etc. It was just a way for her to prove to herself that she is born to do more than just making laddoos. And it wasn’t the English alone that transformed her- it was the independence the feeling of being wanted and desired and of being the brightest student in the class, which was such a contrast to her previous existence which was filled with ingratitude and condescension.

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      • not exactly she learned english to attained acceptance

        she did ask for a hindi newspaper in flight(after compleating her so called mission) right but gorged on english newspaper throughout the movies earlier again to learn language

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        • I guess we just have very different readings of the film- I’m honestly very surprised that people would see it that way. She learned English to prove a point to herself, not to gain acceptance- she was ready to give up the course when her family arrived, and did not give the speech until she was forced to by her niece. It was her inability to even order a cup of coffee in NYC that pushed her over the edge and made her sign up for the class- the English lessons merely represent her yearning for independence and self-validation.

          But even before her family learned of her proficiency in English- it was already helping her feel good about herself- in the scene when she is so upset about her daughter yelling at her, for instance, she is immediately cheered by her ability to order food for herself at the cafe..

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          • Spolier:

            she was ridiculed by her daughter and her hubby alike for mispronounciong something called jazz and for conversing in hindi with priciple i guess and by her sister then she saw that opportunity after the so called incident

            she was compleately unaware about the thing and that called feel good factor came from mehdi

            aside prominence of english as acceptance is a new trend in urban india more so in upper middle class to get the acceptance of society

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          • I don’t think that the importance of English is limited to the upper/middle class alone- my driver in Madras sends his son to an English medium school even though he can barely afford it because he thinks that it is the best way to secure his son’s future. When I was at school I used to take (free) English classes for my maid’s daughter every Sunday and I was surprised when 8 of her friends showed up regularly for my classes- all of them wanted to learn English and go work as nurses abroad, work as sales people in branded shops etc- English is very much the language of social mobility today- the connotations behind acquiring proficiency in English have changed from post-colonial inadequacy to being a means of widening horizons.

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          • your driver want his son to reach elite and get good jobs since english is main language of superpowers and most of mnc’s which operates from english speaking country but again to get his son a regular bread and butter and not a staus symbol

            aside brilliant point on sobhna’s mitr and ya like it alot

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          • Just like TZP. Only when Darsheel wins the painting competition, he gets applause and approval. I think bollywood needs this type of achievment to drive home the point. Just like those Hollywood movies where the main characters survive disasters mandmade and natural until the last so that the hope message is never dumped. For me Battleship was the last straw. The powerful aliens could not destroy those american heroes as usual.

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          • ” but again to get his son a regular bread and butter and not a staus symbol”

            It’s not about status symbols- he just wants his son to have a more comfortable life than he did- being a member of the lower class in a country like India is not an easy thing- it’s easy to enjoy the advantages of being conversant in English and then say that those who do not understand the language should be content/ confident with their lot (no offense- not trying to blame you here- just making a general observation).

            I can understand if you live in a monolingual country and you don’t want to learn English- but in a country like India, it is a necessity IMO. For example- I grew up down South where a lot of people do not know Hindi- so if I didn’t speak English how would I have communicated with my classmates from Kutch, Andra Pradesh, New Delhi, Kerala etc?

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      • Dont you think they have oversimplified problem and solution?
        I watch tv soaps in hindi and thus this simplicity and rootedness is very familiar for me. But when a main stream actress of the stature of Sridevi does it, it gets eyeballs. That is the reason why advertisers mostly opt for a Sachin, SRK, Ash and other celebrities to sell even cold drinks and cosmetic products.

        Do you remember Mitr which was on similar lines to some extent?

        Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Basu Chatterjee excelled in presenting these type of ordinariness. The names that comes to mind are Amol Palekar and Farooque sheik, Deepti naval, Vidya Sinha, Jaya Bhaduri, Sanjeev Kumar.

        I have not yet watched the movie and I am waiting for dvd or tv telecast.

        Atlast the importance of English is recognised.

        And Sridevi’s comeback surpassed every other hero and heroine’s comeback atleast in the eyes of the critics and multiplex audience.

        Everyone must be waiting for her next move and movie.
        Mr.India part 2 with Anil Kapoor?

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        • “Dont you think they have oversimplified problem and solution?”

          I’m sorry, I do not understand- what problem and what solution?

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          • Problem of heroine’s lack of confidence and her acquiring it within a short span.

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          • “Problem of heroine’s lack of confidence and her acquiring it within a short span.”

            I do not think that I have- like I said in a comment to OG, it’s not just about her learning English- it’s the fact that learning English gives her access to a different world where she is a bright student, a desirable woman and an independent person, which is in complete contrast with her previous existence as an unappreciated housewife who is constantly condescended to and take for granted.

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        • mitr was on similar line but more complex and much better movie and lead actress had certain so called layers and was a much more strong performance and was much real

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          • I agree that Mitr was a better film on the whole- but as a commercial Bollywood venture, EV is a VERY commendable effort IMO.

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          • Found Mitr to be a flat film. Had a novel concept and a fine performance from Shobana but if that film’s better than EV I’m not sure that’s much of a compliment…

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          • ” Problem of heroine’s lack of confidence and her acquiring it within a short span.”—hmmm… i think thats a good point sanajana
            english or no english–one ofthe real problems of sridevi was the crisis Of confidence .
            That her daughter & others were targeting her lack of english skills made that crisis worse…
            Btw–Actually haven’t seen mitr but the lady in that film– is that shobhana— haven’t seen any film of hers but find her more graceful and somewhat attractive (more than sridevi..)

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          • Agree on Shobana. For me she’s easily a better actress and more memorably attractive than Sridevi.

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          • Haven’t seen her acting–not sure she can better sridevi in acting.
            As for looks, shobhana is better..
            She’s an attractive aunty…even now
            What’s she doing now?
            Btw how did priya anand, the nice niece (thanx idearaju for the info) get the ‘authentic’ accent from 😉

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          • Btw what we can’t see some gals can ..,
            A female who saw EV today is telling people how both sridevi and her ‘niece’ priya anand has got collagen lip injections –perhaps as a package deal !!
            Hmmm. Now we know ….

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      • excellent piece, wish it was longer though. i haven’t watched the movie yet but reading all reviews including rangan’s, i dare say i’ll probably lean towards your reading of it. beyond that, all cute little feel-good movies are simplistic, so i don’t know what that criticism is about.

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  11. “What message has the film sent across? That you won’t be respected unless you speak in English?”
    Well, as usual, oldgold comes up with a pertinent point not mentioned.
    The woman ultimately HAD to slog hard to learn English to ‘reclaim’ her honor and respect– effectively
    All the nodding approval came from everyone only after that.
    Though english was just a ‘symbol’ or ‘tool’ of her ‘rediscovery of self’ etc but don’t think this symbolism will be visible to all–atleast the ones who are ‘confused’ ..
    Yes most here can see thru that but they were (hopefully) sensible enuf to visualise that anyhow
    Well said oldgold yokel 🙂
    And btw how did ya manage to catch the film –don’t tell me u caught a flight for this again lol

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  12. infact being from the advertising world and rooted to middle class both hubby (more especially)and wife knows how to sell indianised rooted thing

    the main protagonist in cheeni kum was also a chef and also in other two balki movies female protagonist where more rooted and strong compared to male characters who ya at times guilty so indeed its an extension and also a supporting old lady who is likable is another one strong similarities

    why its different because it don’t go over the top and is more subtle and is at best light but it has its share of flaws to first and foremost over emphasis of english which is not different from karan johar’s world where in wake up sis a supriya pathak was more ridiculed for not knowing english by his son but his hubby being a real corporate magnet never complained and infact was more rooted was more real

    in real life for a strong willed lady frankly communication is secondary but its more related with status symbol which here is interlinked with respect and so called self confidence

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  13. another case in point is sterotypes which are childish are based on perception like for the matter the punjabis in overseas(both indian and pakistanis) are cab driver …a software engineer from south is geek and an asian is dumb bimbo

    a famoues televised series” mind your language” cashed on them and frankly the new maker who is bring revolution further fuels it

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    • I’m not saying that this film was flawless- but in my opinion it was able to rise above these flaws quite easily and provide feel-good entertainment that was light without being insubstantial. And I did feel that the way in which the heroine way presented was a refreshing and effective departure from the Bollywood norm.

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  14. look i appreciate it creates something new from old cliches and shown something new but when people calls it masterpiece and exhibits layers in it lthats problematic

    for record i enjoyed the movie alot

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    • When did I call it a masterpiece?! In fact I commented on the EV box office thread that ti was most certainly NOT a masterpiece and I also commented on Q’s note criticizing the jingoism in the film.

      As for the layers- this is how I personally perceived the film- if you thought differently, that’s perfectly fine, we don’t all have to react to the film in the same way! 😛

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  15. to each his own

    for some english was means to acheive goal of self confidence but it came only when she had her own space away from her family to do things on her own way and for some its a case of getting acceptance and respect in the new india and typecast oneself rather than assert your own individuality

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  16. I see many forums and many discussions on films and its the same thing everywhere. Its fine as long as a film is ‘good’ or ‘strictly ok’ when someone likes it beyond that all hell breaks loose. In sensible forums people try to underplay it like ‘sometimes’ its being done here other wise things gets completely hyperbolic.

    Well for me EV is slightly more than just good category 😛

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  17. tonymontana Says:

    Excellent piece here Ami. I echo your words completely. Would like to add more but I’d just revel in my thoughts for the film and wait for the next weeked for watching it again. 🙂

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  18. tonymontana Says:

    On second thought, I do think some people have misread the film here. this most certainly doesn’t endorse that learning English is the way to a better and convenient world but in a way mocks our obsession with the language and how we look down upon those who dont know it. Sridevi’s daughter and husband who are the pseudos here(n shown in a negative light) while the Americans (the Visa officer and the cafe lady in particular) are the ones who look down upon those who cannot speak the language. the coming together of people from different nationalities in the English class also reflects how important the language has become to survive in the center of the world (the USA). if Sridevi learns the language, it was not to be enlightened and achieve nirvana but to get accepted in the world of her own. She was an ordinary human with ordinary ambitions. a very close to life film despite being very entertaining.

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  19. tonymontana Says:

    “What message has the film sent across? That you won’t be respected unless you speak in English?”

    — isnt it ironic this line is written in English, for a Hindi film, addressed to an Indian?
    Your own statement contains the answer..

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    • English is not knowledge but a door or window to more knowledge.

      Many americans and british who can speak english are not epitomes of knowledge. Many of them cant distinguish between Indian indian and american indian. They are not simply interested.

      Both ETT type of movies and EV cater to populist feelings of certain groups. The former caters to the mass while the latter caters to the middleclass. They both touch some chords and hence they succeed in their own way.

      When I visited movie theatres in amrika, I noticed hardly 15 to 20 desis in the theatres even for such blockbusters like ETT and Barfi. That is on weekdays when the ticket prices are a bit low. While in India, a hollywood movie receives so much popular support. That is why this crossover and Oscar thing over which we fight seems so inconsequential. We are stonewalled by indifference.

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      • For many north Indians all south indiand are madrasis while for many south indians even maharashtrians are north Indians. Is Raj thackeray listening?

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      • those are two different things though. agree on your point about indifference. but then, why should we care about it? we can still make the movies for our own consumption only as long as we enjoy them. but if we do want to be seen and heard at a global level (as we secretly and not so secretly do), don’t we have to measure up to the standards? and not ‘our’ or ‘their’ standards, just cinematic standards. french, german, iranian, korean, even swedish films have created their own space. they have done so on their own terms through their own layered, interesting, complex narratives and have found acceptance among foreign audience all over due to their universally appealing stories and characters. so it’s not just about being stonewalled. maybe most of our films are just not that good or appealing to a varied audience?

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        • “but if we do want to be seen and heard at a global level (as we secretly and not so secretly do), don’t we have to measure up to the standards? and not ‘our’ or ‘their’ standards, just cinematic standards. “–agree anya
          “french, german, iranian, korean, even swedish films have created their own space. they have done so on their own terms “—yes the key is ” on their own terms”.
          That’s where many Indian film makers falter in trying to copy /simulate other (usually hollywood) style / cinematic language
          Ps: would add japanese films as well …Have a distinctive ‘flavour’

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          • Indians were ruled by the british and colonised by them. Thus we opened up to Britishers first and then to americans. While the nations you mentioned did not have our type of history. And Indians are not as closed a society as some of them. In some respects we are more open and ready to accept. Our films reflect these things. Even our lifestyles reflect this confused state.

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          • “In some respects we are more open and ready to accept. Our films reflect these things. Even our lifestyles reflect this confused state.”
            Yes Sanjana-also Indians world over are relatively open to accept/adapt (peacefully)

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      • > Many of them cant distinguish between Indian indian and american indian. They are not simply interested.

        THis is just like ‘the English/angrez’ as a one dimensional entity as portrayed by many ‘educated Indians’.

        The dialogue where ABsr says ‘in angrezon ko sikhana hai ‘(something like that) is so ridiculous.
        When even the Scots and Welsh (just returned from there so my knowledge is first hand) consider themselves as *non english* and feel they have been colonized by England, how can one refer to the Americans as ‘yeh angrez’???

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    • >– isnt it ironic this line is written in English, for a Hindi film, addressed to an Indian?
      Your own statement contains the answer..

      How does it answer my question, tony?
      I don’t see it. Are you saying that if I had addressed this in hindi on a hindi forum I would not have been respected?

      OR if anyone writes/speaks wrong English I wouldn’t respect them?
      OR if I encountered a person like Shashi I would not respect them?

      I think you are confused here.
      Shashi ***wasn’t learning English*** to be able to write on the internet. In fact her relatives in NY took it in their stride.

      She was learning English to please the people around her.

      That scene in the café was the height of ridiculousness. ENGLISH WASN’T THE PROBLEM THERE, BUT THE UNFRIENDLY WOMAN….AND SHASHI’s TIMIDITY.

      Living in a non English speaking country, at first when I didn’t know a word, people were helpful. I was ‘shown’ things to choose from. It wasn’t as if Shashi was zero (like I was), she knew the word ‘small’ etc.

      No, the film concentrated too much on ‘English’ instead of on gaining self confidence by other means.

      Not that this is wrong. I’m pointing out the message that comes across – which probably isn’t something many would consider a negative one. It is so in India today.

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      • agree oldgold
        Btw your experience reminds me– reminds me-For the amount of tourism it has, Switzerland has surprising dearth of English signs / hoardings
        I mean, the anti English sentiment is ok but why to penalise tourists who are bringing cash to your economy
        In some places, German, french, Flemish every damn language will be used but not English …don’t blame locals but authorities
        Though it is improving now–what Dya feel

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        • English signs are everywhere now.

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          • Oh good 🙂
            Btw the tourist spots etc always had em
            I’m talking about normal environs, semi urban & other areas tourists sometimes find worth ‘exploring’-guess one needs a ‘guide’ lol

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  20. This was a good note, Ami. I think you nail better than anyone else what makes this remotely interesting on thematic terms in your observation about Shinde taking one of the most “valuable” archetypes in Indian cinema, typically made to play stoic, suffering and often passive peripheral roles, and turning her into a protagonist who’s actively resisting and reforming the very meaning of what makes her valuable in the first place. To me this idea makes the work more interesting than anything else.

    I saw the film tonight. It’s a pleasant enough star vehicle and it sees its central ideas through, but there are issues here that bogged things down for me. One is not quite the film’s fault. It’s just that we’ve seen so many representations of New York in Bollywood that at this late date it seems, despite resisting total Johar-ification and opting for a more realistic tone, a bit passé. Worse, and what I found most redundant and somewhat ironic were some of the scenes in the classroom, where the various students’ broken English and bad accents were mined for comedy. The first couple of instances were fine but beyond a point I found this repetitive, dated, unfunny and actually working to turn the audience into precisely the type of hecklers that make folks like Shashi feel smaller to begin with! I’m not waving the un-PC flag, though. Just didn’t think it was very funny. Kind of like a Russell Peters set. Finally while this film does what it does well I’m ultimately not the demographic for this. Partly because leaving aside some of the the subversion, at its core we ultimately really have on our hands here yet another film about an Indian finding themselves abroad.

    But getting back to the virtues, Sridevi has never been better. In many of her earlier roles she often comes off like a meek, hapless little schoolgirl who then quite perversely becomes the source of sexual interest for a film’s hero or villain. Always found that gross and ultimately as a presence I never took to her brand of ditzy childishness. Here, though, these weaknesses (at least as I see them) are turned into very effective strengths. The childlike curiosity and the frailty she exhibits here aid her tremendously. The French classmate was also quite strong. And a note about Amitabh Bachchan’s scene here. This whole sequence, especially the part where he plays interpreter for “Source Code” was the most charming moment in the film and in some ways a rather sly one on Shinde’s part. Because who better to “ferry” an otherwise reluctant Indian national abroad than the country’s most transcendent, border-defying figure?

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    • great points! and lol @ russell peters set!

      Like

    • Terrific comment GF- and I agree with much of what you have to say, except for this- “yet another film about an Indian finding themselves abroad.”

      Films of this sort usually irritate me as well- but in this case I don’t see how Sashi could have undertaken this journey anywhere but abroad. She was never going to have the time or freedom to do so back home, what with the never-ending demands of her family and the over-protectiveness of her husband. If she was surrounded by their constant belittlement her budding confidence would have been crushed before it could bloom. Riana, Rahul (EMAET) Imran, Kabir and Arjun (ZNMD) could have all done whatever dubious ‘coming-of-age’ they had to do back home in Bandra, but Sashi needed to get away from her family to find herself.

      And a big component of her newly discovered self-esteem came from experiencing the independence of navigating this dazzling, terrifying new world by herself- just being able to ride the buses and subway alone gave her so much confidence, for instance.

      I thought that this was very well-executed- Sashi doesn’t just waltz into a foreign land and automatically start living the high life the way most Bollywood characters do- she goes through a phase of being intimidated and helpless, sees the less glamorous, cruel side of NYC before starting to enjoy herself and confidently walk the streets and enter the cafes that initially confused her so badly. I think that the important difference between Gauri and Zoya’s takes on finding yourself abroad is that Zoya presents Spain as this magical alternate universe that solved the boys problems for them and let them live without any consequences, whilst Gauri presents NYC as a new environment that inspired Sashi to solve her own problems.

      But I agree completely with your point on the redundancy of the stereotypes in the English class- this extremely irritating man sitting next to me in the theater actually spent the entire film mocking the accents of the students and then clapped enthusiastically for Sridevi during her final speech without realizing the irony of his actions! 😛

      Like

      • All fair points, Ami. It’s probably unfair of me to reduce the narrative here to this most basic an objective and certainly you’re right that the film provides real motivation for all this to occur abroad. Certainly more so than the other find-yourself-abroad films. But I do nevertheless feel more instinctively interested in films that actually take place in India. I will say though that this film’s critique of a certain aspirational upper-middle class was more salient than what’s typically offered elsewhere in Bollywood; what keeps it from completely succeeding is that elsewhere in its narrative (mainly with some of the whacky-accent comedy) it takes precisely the steps it advises its audience to avoid.

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    • Re: “…she often comes off like a meek, hapless little schoolgirl who then quite perversely becomes the source of sexual interest for a film’s hero or villain. Always found that gross…”

      I agree completely; I’ve always found there to be something “indecent” about Sridevi’s sexuality.

      Like

      • Yes -this childish coquettishness accompanied by her shrill mumbling voice was an irritant to me ..But she is/was clearly a talented spontaneous performer of the switch on/off variety
        Ps : ‘child women’ or ‘overgrown girls’ have their own appeal to some

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        • the child woman syndrome is not specific to her, it’s a bw problem. women are mothers, madonnas and whores. male characters are not complex either for that matter, we mostly have caricatures in our movies. sri’s problem was her baby face, and the baby voice didn’t help matters. not to mention difficulty with language. but she went on to do well despite all that, pretty good outcome while working around inherent shortcomings.

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      • Yes, I’ve always found something odd about her whole personality. EV is the first film of hers that I’ve watched, but what you say explains what I found odd about her in song clips etc.
        In addition I find her eyes too large for her face and they seem to have a dumb stupid expression.

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        • I do not know how far it is true, but it is rumoured that she was programmed by her ambitious mother from childhood and Sri did not disappoint her.

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      • Well said, Q.

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      • i am totally stunned with revelation Q 🙂 of course I don’t agree with that indecent stuff at all – but every one has an opinion and I respect it.

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        • Don’t think that her childishness was ‘indecent’ unique Raju …(I’ve seen only few films –Lamhe/gumraah)
          It was slightly wierd/irritating though not offensive /obnoxious (as in the case of the kapoor sisters)
          It’s like a 25-35 yr old girl suddenly behaving like a 15 year old alternating with a person of subnormal intelligence…
          But with that spontaneity and talent, these things could have been excused ….

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  21. Sheetal Varma Says:

    A vey insightful writeup Ami. Have not watched EV but your point about unappreciated and taken for granted mothers and wives struck a chord with me. As a stay at home mom since my son was born I have felt the condesetion by others, esp by other working women. This inspite of me being highly educated and proficient in English. Even my 6 old son seems to think that I am there solely to take care of him. To counter this have started teaching at an NGO and see more respect now all around. So the point here is not just English or education but nobody takes housework and childcare as being valuable in themselves. But Sri in EV has a laddoo making business which earns her money. Sorry my thoughts are in a muddle but the point is that its not just English but selfworth. For some it could be english for others being financially independant .

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  22. Sheetal Varma Says:

    * condescending by others.

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  23. Thanx for that moving post sheetal– also kudos to u for frankly mentioning this …
    Your post proves the success of this film
    ” Even my 6 old son seems to think that I am there solely to take care of him.”–hahaha that’s cute actually
    Let’s not blame him –all babies /small kids think /want their moms to be their exclusive property 🙂
    Btw the small kid in ev was v cute but the girl (sridevis daughter ) was a monster lol

    Like

  24. Btw sheetal –with that comment on your small kid –u made the kid in me unhappy 🙂
    C’mon that was harsh on the poor kid ..
    U should do your writeup since that will incorporate your insight (not saying Amy doesn’t have experiencelol)

    Like

  25. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Won’t get another Amitabh Bachchan in next 100 years: R Balki

    Megastar Amitabh Bachchan is turning 70 on October 11 and film director R Balki, who has delivered hits like ‘Cheeni Kum’ and national award winning ‘Paa’ with Big B, describes the Bollywood legend as a once in a lifetime actor.

    Balki also feels that Indian cinema is living a special moment with the veteran actor.

    “He is once in a lifetime actor and the best way to respect and be friendly.. and love him would be to continue adoring him,” Balki said.
    The ad filmmaker feels that such a multi-talented actor is a rarity.
    “He is an icon. We are fortunate enough to be living in an era where people like him are there. And I don’t think one will get to see another Amitabh Bachchan in the next 100 years. I don’t think it can happen,” Balki added.

    http://www.screenindia.com/news/wont-get-another-amitabh-bachchan-in-next-100-years-r-balki/1014083/

    ( The husband and wife at least worship the right idols.)

    Like

    • Re: And I don’t think one will get to see another Amitabh Bachchan in the next 100 years.

      So true. May be not even in next 100 years. AB is an accident of nature or a freak. Where supreme talent fortuitously collided with extra ordinary physical gifts, an unmatched voice, supremely expressive eyes, tremendous body language, native intelligence, humility and discipline.

      Like

  26. Ranbir Kapoor’s ‘Barfi’ makes it to Oscar’s long-list

    http://ibnlive.in.com/news/ranbir-kapoors-barfi-makes-it-to-oscars-longlist/299402-8-67.html

    Like

  27. Good reading here Ami. After reading Rangan’s review and then this, am tempted to lean towards what you say the film brings out in essence. Will watch EV once all the furore dies down. Too much of its ‘sweetness’ in the air right now…

    Right now following how Sridevi is handling herself off screen. This actress was never quite known be articulate and comfortable with journos (although when she was at the top in the 70’s and 80’s it was a pretty tepid scenario with the media then). But she seems to making her way, although not very comfortably.

    Before, felt her choice of EV as a return was quite intelligent (!). EV seemed to be a film that cut her star stature to a size appropriate to what was required in the story and here was a former top star who readily and enthusiastically embraced the role. (Madhuri Dixit faltered in this understanding when she accepted AN as her comeback film and is still struggling to find an ‘avatar’ acceptable not to the audience but to her, first and foremost).

    But now after watching some clips and reading about her performance in EV, I think ‘ve over estimated her reading. EV needed exactly what Sridevi as an actress offered when she was in her prime although extracted and removed of the overtly melodramatic excesses, thanks to Gauri Shinde’s cinematic expression. This tactic – the coming together of Shinde and Sri who seem to have a similar mental makeup – how deliberate don’t know but it has worked ‘wonders’ for Sridevi as in a way it still caters to her brand of acting that i wasn’t fond of at all.

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    • Re: Madhuri Dixit faltered in this understanding when she accepted AN as her comeback film and is still struggling to find an ‘avatar’ acceptable not to the audience but to her, first and foremost

      Thats an astute observation. And something I would agree with wholeheartedly. Am sure there is scope for Madhuri in todays BW. The reason why not much is happening is Madhuri might be overreaching. She needs to work her way back in. Or could wait endlessly for thta perfect project. BTW, did feel AN was a great comeback vehicle and deserved better at the BO. And, the director there ( was it Anil Mehta ) did as good a job as Gauri.

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      • I know for sure there is a fellow AN fan here in GF. Am not sure how others felt.

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        • Yes, I really liked AN a lot and Anil Mehta deserved to do more as a director. A shame he hasn’t had a chance to followup on the promise of that film. Certainly enjoyed AN more than EV.

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        • Liked AN more the second time around than the first but not as much of a fan as you guys are. It’s a very engaging work for sure. Think Mehta could make a better (which is to say more sharply focused) film. This one certainly showed promise.

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        • My opinion may not carry much weight, but I loved AN. Have seen it quite a few times.

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          • Oldgold–why does your opinion not carry weight !?
            Now I r taking like sridevi in EV! 🙂
            Be confident …
            Ps: haven’t seen aaja nachle but it seemed a reasonable film from few shots I’ve seen

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          • Wel, the behaviour of a lot of people here is like Sridevi’s husband, who dismiss ones likes in the same way as ‘laddoos’ were dismissed LOL
            So, of course my laddoo level opinion might not carry weight.

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          • “So, of course my laddoo level opinion might not carry weight.”–c’mon oldgold –be proud of your laddooos—no pun intended lol

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          • ^Btw oldgold –u have unknowingly taught me a new dodgy double entrende meaning of ‘laddooos’ 😉

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          • Your kind are the biggest problem in modern society. Your one track mind about women is a nusiance.

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          • Oops Og- I thought u would take it sportingly
            But if u felt bad- it can be deleted..
            And u can ‘punish’ me -happy ?

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      • Didn’t quite take to AN. It in some parts was quite regressive, if I remember right. Mehta’s film before, with Manisha Koirala and Rampal (?), that one had some nice visuals but I wouldn’t consider AM to be a valuable director..

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        • Arthi,
          Yo uare confusing Anil Mehta with Ashok Mehta.

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          • Indeed. Am not good with names but mixing up filmographies is unforgivable in a way. Anil M’s directorial debut – AN. And since he has made only this movie the comment prev doesn’t stand…:)..

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        • Can’t say I found it regressive anywhere. quite the opposite.

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          • I liked Aaja Nachle a lot as well- it’s a pity that it did so badly at the BO. I especially enjoyed the interactions between Madhuri and Akshaye Khanna- I’d love to see them together again in a full-fledged romantic film.

            Like

    • “Madhuri Dixit faltered in this understanding when she accepted AN as her comeback film and is still struggling to find an ‘avatar’ acceptable not to the audience but to her, first and foremost”

      I agree with Rajen that this is a very astute observation. But I can’t really think of the type of film that would be a suitable comeback vehicle for Madhuri- certainly not the Ishqiya sequel that she’s filming now! I can’t really see her doing an EV either… What kind of films do you think would work for her Arthi? 🙂

      Like

      • omrocky786 Says:

        Hema malini’s role in Jamai raja, Dimple’s role in DCH-2 ( with Ranbir Kapoor as Akshay khanna), Aruna Irani’s role in beta -2..lol

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      • omrocky786 Says:

        Dream role would be Madhri, Sridevi and Manisha Koirala..playing Shaukeen or Dil Aashna hai ……

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        • Haha Rocky
          The fact is that v v few good roles are there for that segment of actresses
          Sridevi was also lucky to get this
          But what will her next role be..
          Knowing their mind maps–I’m waiting for yashraj to ‘unite’ sridevi with Anil kapoor with boneys son as the younger lead lol

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        • omrocky786 Says:

          Sri Devi’s next should be Erin Brachivich ……

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          • Rocky that’s a good suggestion
            Erin brockovich incidentally was te film that changed my perspective of Julia Roberts
            Now even likes her in larry crowne!
            Thus I’m inventing anither one of my own terms –the ‘carry over effect!’
            Ie the positive baggage, good vibes and the new audience u carry over from a past flick ..
            Ps-not sure if sridevi is the one for that movie though..

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          • omrocky786 Says:

            If not Sridevi then maybe Vidya Balan……she has the unique combination of innocence, intelligence and Sexysense…

            Like

          • BTW Rocky- did you watch EV? What did you think of it?

            Like

          • omrocky786 Says:

            No, I have not seen it yet….I have been told that it is a must watch for my 12 year old daughter though !! thos tameez aaye usssme ! LOL

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          • Ami- Finally watched EV last night and totally loved it..gave me quite a few talking points to discuss with my daughter..
            However it also gave some talking points to my wife as well… raat ka band baj gaya ..LOL!!
            Sridevi’s acting specially the speech was vey nice..the support cast was really good and provided the light moments in the movie….
            Agree with Qalandar on the Tight Slap bit……..
            yours and Qalandar’s review pretty much sums up the movie because it is from both gender’s perspective…..

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          • Saw it last night and loved it too! Very neatly done, clean (unlike many films today) and simply told.

            Like

          • “gave me quite a few talking points to discuss with my daughter..
            However it also gave some talking points to my wife as well… raat ka band baj gaya”

            ROFL! Glad you liked the film- and I too would have liked to see Sridevi give her insufferable daughter One Tight Slap! 😛

            Like

      • Frankly Ami, never dwelt on this one… Hmm, what does she have now – Isq..2 and Gulabo Gang only, right? I’d take the former because it roots MD’s character into the rustic Indian milieu and Dixit as an actress she scores in such movies. MD is way too Indian in her sensibility as an actress – its in her DNA. But then, this has become her pitfall as well.
        Maybe if MD is able to reign in herself and the ‘I’ factor, and if Abhishek Chaubey is able to deliver atleast what Ishiqya did I’d say it would work!

        But if you are asking if she’d get a fluent stream of such offers, don’t think her plate is going to be even half full. Its tough going for her IMO.

        Thinking of which, why hasn’t yet Mani Ratnam done a movie with her?….

        Like

    • spot-on about the contrast in madhuri’s and sri’s attempts. yes, madhuri does seem to be flailing around, not knowing what to do. this has always been the most striking difference between the two. they both had charismatic presence on-screen, were decent actresses and good dancers. but sri somehow always had the ability to ‘detach’ and ‘rise-above’ and always seemed classier. she also made definitive (if more controversial) decisions in her life and stuck to them. madhuri’s cluelessness and ability to go with the flow was kind of endearing when she was younger, now it seems silly. hope she gets beyond cheesy dance shows on tv and gets to do something more worthwhile. sri otoh seems like she’ll be ok with disappearing for another 15 years or never doing a movie again. but who knows – maybe she’ll live upto her reputation of being the female amitabh bachchan and start doing every tom, dick, harry role offered to her.

      Like

      • A v nice witty comment Anya
        “sri otoh seems like she’ll be ok with disappearing for another 15 years or never doing a movie again. but who knows – maybe she’ll live upto her reputation of being the female amitabh bachchan and start doing every tom, dick, harry role offered to her”–hahaha agree
        Wonder Anya — y don’t u also cum out with full pieces.
        Ok, like amy–lemme also ‘groom’ & ‘motivate’ u
        And reminds me –what happened to those pieces u were going to write –yes, I know ur too busy lol

        Like

      • It is interesting to note that TV gives more visibility, exposure to stars. KBC, Jhalak and even BB to some extent. Madhuri is wise to grab the best even if it is TV which Sri cant do for obvious reasons.

        It is doubtful whether Madhuri can ever comeback to silverscreen the way Sri did. For that she needs some luck.

        Like

  28. “. EV seemed to be a film that cut her star stature to a size appropriate to what was required in the story and here was a former top star who readily and enthusiastically embraced the role”
    That’s a v good point arti
    Madhuri seems a bit too ‘desperate’ in her comeback attempts and has now apparently trans located her whole family back to bombay for her (second) dream ! Hope her cardiologist hubby is still doing sowmthing lol
    As for EV–
    I dont see myself seeing a film on a suppressed under confident housewife!
    The fact that I watched it and liked it a lot proves how ev has crossed over to audience beyond its typical target audience
    And that IS surely an achievement
    Well done gauri and sridevi (& above all balki!!) 😉

    Like

    • How on earth was Madhuri’s comeback ‘desperate’? She played an age-appropriate role in a sweet movie that was tailor-made for her. Desperation is making nonsensical movies that are designed to make you look ‘cool’ and insisting on playing a 20 year old when you’re closer to fifty (which is what many of her former co-stars are doing). And it’s not like her husband cannot work as a cardiologist in India!

      “The fact that I watched it and liked it a lot proves how ev has crossed over to audience beyond its typical target audience
      And that IS surely an achievement”

      LOL! Do you even realize how pompous you sound? 😛

      Like

      • Haha Amy – Its not about being ‘pompous’
        It’s a question of ‘breaking ground’ into new domain of audiences
        For eg–in a lesser extent —
        Had hated salman and hadn’t seen many of his films
        But dabang was more than a hit for him
        It got him new audiences
        Te significance of these films is much more than their box office gross
        With ev-gauri /sridevi (& balki above all) achieved that … Haha

        Like

      • Havent seen aaja nachle and my sense is that it was a blood flick
        The ‘desperate’ bit wasn’t that movie but what she’s doing /signing now
        And she seems to be tv channel hopping ..
        Anyhow I’ve lost interest in madhuri long ago-even DTPH was an embarrassment
        Her trying to fit into those tight leotards and jumping around with screecho karisma –what an irritant film !!!

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        • omrocky786 Says:

          You did not miss much AA by not watching AN…..it is strictly a TV/DVD movie…

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          • yes, it’s ok to watch if it’s on tv. good threads and moments here and there but nothing really comes together. madhuri and akshay had good chemistry but were underdeveloped. konkana’s character and romance track with kunal kapoor here was as irritating as they come; the other numerous characters didn’t really leave much of an impression either. also, for the comeback vehicle of a dancing star revolving around dance, it had pretty lame music and choreography.

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      • Desperate is like Preity Zinta’s recent effort. AN was a nice vehicle to comeback on, a nice movie that just did not take the box office by storm.

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  29. Have a question irking me
    But what do folks feel–who was better
    Sridevi in ev vs vidya balan in kahani
    With reasons.,.
    Amy , Sanjana — what do u feel

    Like

    • I cannot compare the two- Sridevi’s was an instinctive performance in a sweet, simple film and Vidya’s was an intelligent performance in a more layered movie. They were both fantastic though.

      BTW- Alex, GF, Q, Rajen, Sanjana, OG, Rocky, Tony, Idea etc- let’s have a list of your favorite (male and female) performances this year…

      Like

      • omrocky786 Says:

        Have not seen EV, Heroine and GOW-2 yet but for me Vidya rules in Kahani and Ranbir K in Barfee….
        my fa. movies- Kahani, Barfi, Bol Bachchan, Cocktail,PST, Isahqzade and Vicky Donor.
        My worst – TMK and SFKTNP

        Like

      • omrocky786 Says:

        SFKTNP – yeh picture kyon banee , kaise baneee…..what a crapfest !!

        Like

      • Vidya in Kahani of course. Haven’t seen Barfee, but I think Ranbir would be best in it, there’s no one else.

        Like

      • Ami, I know u haven’t asked me this question but if i may do the sin of butting-in – fav male performances- Jaideep Ahlawat (Shahid Khan in GoW 1), Ranbir (Barfi), Irrfan (PST), Annu Kapoor (VD), Adil Hussain (AV) and both Nawazuddin and Parambrata (Kahani). Fav female performances- Vidya followed by Priyanka and Huma (GoW). Fav star performance- Saif (AV). Scene stealers-Sudeep (Eega/Makkhi/Naan E), Gauhar Khan (Ishaqzaade) and Ileana (Barfi). Fav films- Barfi followed closely by AV and Eega

        Like

        • omrocky786 Says:

          I agree with Anu kapoor in VD.. he was really really great in the movie…
          aside- did Makhi release in hindi yet ? if it did how did it do @ BO?

          Like

        • That’s a great list Saurabh 🙂 My list of favorite male performances this year largely overlaps with yours- Parambrata Chatterjee, Irrfan Khan, Annu Kapoor, Mehdi Nebbou, Adil Hussain and Nawazuddin Siddiqque- funny how most of them were not in lead roles. And the only reason I didn’t address the question to you is because I already saw your list of favorite female performances on the other thread. 😛

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          • Was just pulling your leg with the butting-in comment Ami. Will keep Mehdi Nebbou’s act in mind when i get to see EV. Par aapke GoW ke baare mein kya vichaar hain? I remember u saying that u were slightly hesitant watching since u weren’t so comfortable with the dialect.

            Like

        • I too liked Mehdi Nebbou very much. I think he will have quite a few female fan following from India after this movie!

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        • Naan E… Reminds of Wall E…

          Like

      • Haven’t seen very many movies this year to be honest. Among male performances I’d take Irfan Khan in PST over everyone by miles, though I haven’t seen the second part of Gangs of Wasseypur so it’s tough to weigh in on Nawazuddin. Hopefully seeing that soon. Haven’t seen Barfi yet either. Among female performances I’d probably take the Kahaani work over everyone else. Though I don’t quite see the actress others see in Vidya Balan. Having said this, this work was her most impressive outing following Ishqiya.

        All things considered, the actor who left the most memorable impact on a film this year though was probably Jaideep Ahlawat as Shahid Khan in GOW-1. You could have built an entire film around this guy.

        Like

        • Oh and if there was a “movie star” performance I enjoyed the most this year I’d make a case for Akshay in RR. And yeah, I’m serious.

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  30. “I cannot compare the two”–haha
    Amy–If I put a gun on your head and u r forced to, then ? 😉
    No diplomacy , no spin
    Come out folks

    Like

  31. My own awards –Till now best female performances–this year
    Joint ‘awards’ from me-which includes free ‘holiday’ with me in exotic locations ! 🙂
    Diana panty & deepika -cock tail
    Ileana da cruz – barfi
    These three have won a package holiday deal (with me)
    Ps-
    Sridevi and vidya wil be awarded by many other folks –don’t wanna waste their( & my ) time 🙂

    Like

    • omrocky786 Says:

      saala jab mauka milta hai C and P kee baat kartha hai …..LOL!

      Like

    • omrocky786 Says:

      My daughter performed on ” Tumhee ho bandhu sakha tumhee ho ” at a cultural function and I had to buy the CD of Cocktail for that, I have become a huge fan of its music now..specially Lutna is my super Fav. these days……

      Like

  32. omrocky786 Says:

    Satyam – have you seen GOW-1 and/or GOW-2 yet ???

    Like

  33. Good man rocky –u are the ‘real’ man here amongst ladies and lady-like guys here –Yaiy cheers !!!
    Nice to know u liked the music of cock tail
    And yeah –tumhi Ho bandhu is good for kids to perform on –good cultural ‘religious’ theme …

    Like

  34. After the stupendous success of Sridevi, all the other heroines past and present are worried and jealous.

    Hema I could have done that role much butter.

    Rekha I missed showcasing my sarees and acting skills.

    Vidya. I thought I killed all the competition.

    Kareena. Thats what I call real heroine. I am fake.

    Priyanka. Thats a role for mature heroines.

    Rani. Wait until my Aiyya and Talaash and then judge.

    Katrina. I am in a different league.

    Madhuri. It will be a one film comeback.

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  35. Hahaha Sanjana–what a post –ROFLOL
    I Think that small post is no less than Amy’s take on ev 🙂

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  36. Good write up Ami.

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  37. This could have been an excellent article had the writer not fallen pray to her feministic notions about things. While the phrasology and the language used is splendid throughout, what is annoying is the condascending attitude towards the bollywood films made for the youth of today. Also the writer does not seem to be aware that much better films like Chupke Chupke have been made in the past on the topic of the post colonial pressures caused by English language. And to be candid this one pales in comparison to the one written by Qalandar which is far more comprehensive and is written without any particular preconceived notions. And the mutual admiration group of the writer and her friends continues to make its prsence felt with all sorts of insane compliments being showered upon. Of course this would be praised to high heavens by some people and opinions coming from a new poster like me will be dismissed which has often been the case on this blog.

    Like

    • omrocky786 Says:

      Toh channel change kar lo, ya jaa kar apna blog bana lo….Simple!

      Like

    • I think you are being harsh on the writer Ashi. It is one thing to admire some body’s writing style and another thing comparing authors. In no way did Ami suggest that EV is a path breaking film. As for the writer not being aware of Chupke-2 (which i doubt), one cannot expect a young 20 something person to be aware of all the good movies made ages ago. I think we should give some allowance to that factor. Also i don’t know see a “condascending attitude towards the bollywood films made for the youth of today” – perhaps you are reading it differently? I too enjoyed reading Q’s write up but have quite a few points to discuss further on things that i don’t necessarily agree with in his write up.

      Constructive crtiicism and sharing your view points that may be different to what the write is saying is always a pleasure to read. I don’t think any one would dismiss your views. Hopefully my resopnse proves that!

      Like

    • LOL! If you don’t like my note that is perfectly fine- but you don’t have to create a fake ID to say so! 😛 I’m not going to say anything more- but it is pretty obvious to me who ‘Ashi’ is- and I don’t want to create a fuss over this because I think that the ‘original’ person here is a valuable, interesting part of this blog, even if he/she has a tendency towards schizophrenia.

      And BTW- I do agree that Q’s note was much better than mine- he has a much better understanding/ knowledge of cinema than me- so I’m not offended by that comment in the least. And I did not bring up Chupke Chupke because the focus in this film is not on the post-colonial pressure caused by the English language at all- Sashi’s English lessons here are just a metaphor that could be replaced with any number of other activities.

      As for my feminist ideas and my views on Bollywood’s youth cinema- that’s part of my opinion- if I don’t write this piece from my perspective, what’s the point of me writing it at all? Cinema is a personal experience and everybody views and analyzes movies through the prism of their beliefs and previous experiences- this is unavoidable.

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      • I am trying to guess. Who is using this fake ID? Any clues?

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        • Tendency towards Schizophrenia? I almost nailed it.

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          • I’m sorry- I only mentioned the fake ID bit in the hope that Ashi doesn’t start picking fights with me (which is clearly his/her intention here) and I don’t have to ‘expose’ him/her- I actually enjoy reading the original person’s comments- so I am not going to say any more for now.

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      • fair enough Ami but you have thrown enough hints.

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        • C’mon Amy –who is ashi?
          I can’t make out –plz tell or give more hints 🙂

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          • Oh amy–realised -did u suspect me 🙂
            Nope –I never need another I’d –one is enuf and I say what I have to openly /directly
            Moderators are free to check /clarify to others like amy…
            Infact I wonder how /why even in these doubtful situations like naseers son & ‘Neha’ etc, the moderators wait a long time before ‘checking’ ip addresses lol
            Ps: this is real detective thriller fun
            Ps2: Amy : who do u frankly think it is –don’t worry–I will ‘protect’ u

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          • I loved this detective work.
            Hmm — so Amy – who is your suspect (s)
            Your silence now is irritating And u don’t need to be ‘scared’ or ‘timid’ now lol
            Btw I have said ‘bolder’ and more direct stuff in my own I’d – so don’t need fake ids
            Moderators can easily check ip anyways — wondering y it takes them so long esp when there is doubt
            Unless someone from moderators is doing this fakery 😉

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          • C’mon Alex- don’t create trouble now. 😛 I only mentioned the fake ID issue because ‘Ashi’ has been targeting me alone with her comments and I don’t want to get dragged into an argument with a fake person-I’m not interested in any ‘detective work’ concerning this ID.

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          • HaHa Amy -don’t be ‘scared’ (I luv detective work like this )
            I will ‘protect’ u lol
            Who do u think are the suspect(s)–U may or may not be right but if u have a doubt say it out –why to be so timid ….Or else I will get ‘angry’ with u…

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      • [edited]

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      • Re: “And BTW- I do agree that Q’s note was much better than mine- he has a much better understanding/ knowledge of cinema than me…”

        It’s nice of you to say that (thanks for that!) but I genuinely feel yours was the better review of English Vinglish.

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  38. sorry I noticed quite a few typos after posting my comment.

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  39. Hmm Ashi —
    “opinions coming from a new poster like me will be dismissed which has often been the case on this blog.”—don’t worry ashi …
    Do write more –just bcos u are new, your views shouldn’t be dismissed –one may/may not agree…
    Feel free to tell is about your views on this movie or any others u have seen recently….
    Who are your favourite actors/actresses btw…

    Like

    • omrocky786 Says:

      ho gaya Kalyaan….ab AA ka Chu..katega, phir bolega – Mujhe toh shuru sey maloom tha !!! LOL

      Like

    • Thanks AA. My favourite actors are Madhubala, Audrey Hepburn, Bill Murray, Katrina and Hrithik

      Like

      • Nice choices ashi
        Madhubala, Hepburn, katrina & hritik
        Hmm..Thats a simple straightforward unpretentious list …
        And what are your favorite movies
        Which current heros and actresseS do u like in Bollywood
        Ps: if I’m not mistaken ‘ashi’ was the name of aishwarya in her first film?–I’m not sure though …

        Like

  40. Haha rocky–it’s fun–this person sounds somewhat familiar …
    Good for adding masala to the blog 🙂

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  41. omrocky786 Says:

    agree totally Antya on AN…..

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  42. When there are so many talented and winning performances, it is not fair to choose only one just because one has to choose.

    Nowadays award functions are done keeping in mind tv audience who care more for entertainment, glitter than who is getting which award. For acting honours they have their favourite soap actors to choose from.

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  43. although I do agree on the impact of the film, I think you are making too much out of it as far as its portrayal of an Indian Woman achieveing her dreams is concerned.

    The movie is a feel good one, it takes you in THAT zone of feeling sympathetic towards the protagonist because of an exceptionally GONE WRONG teenaged daughter who has detest as her first emotion towards mum and a buffoon of a husband who is liberal enough to let her wife argue with him and run her own ladduu business yet mock her every now and then about her english.

    No when you are all riled up with sympathy towards the protagnonist, it enters the “this is America and your life is about to change zone” Here’s the deal-Its good, its all very good but this narrative tends to make you think more about the film, than what it actually is.

    Yes Taking a metro is an achievement (in the same manner you intended in your writing) but it is also a gross underestimation of the middle class Indian women, that makes it an achievment. I have often come across, many Daadis and Naanis, bhabhis and aunties who come to the US (with zero knowledge of english) and do the same (take a metro, roam around the city) and Actually do not take it as an achievement. Its just something that everyone does.

    The movie is a really good one and stands for something important too but lets just stick to what it is.. Its a Khosla ka Ghosla where you managed to fool a con and here you managed to learn Englidh in 4 weeks.

    Like

    • “Yes Taking a metro is an achievement (in the same manner you intended in your writing) but it is also a gross underestimation of the middle class Indian women, that makes it an achievment.”

      This is an excellent point Paapaas- I did think that Sashi was a little too naive and helpless at certain points- and you are right that the film does emotionally manipulate you into imagining her achievements are bigger than they actually are.

      But I still think that making a heroine out of the housewife/ mother archetype and depicting the world through her perspective is a pretty big deal and pretty subversive considering that the typical ‘maa’ is usually glorified only for her selfless/ self-sacrificing nature and yet here the focus is on her own needs and wants.

      Like

      • > considering that the typical ‘maa’ is usually glorified only for her selfless/ self-sacrificing nature and yet here the focus is on her own needs and wants.

        It’s ONLY in cases of poverty, like giving her share of the food to her children – because there is less (I would do too in similar circumstances), OR when it comes to troubles in which the children are ionvolved, OR when she has to do something (like stitch clothes 🙂 ) to provide for the family that there is any need of sacrifice.

        So, poverty being one of the main reasons, Shashi has no reason to do so.
        Modern films DO NOT depict poverty anymore (the burying head in sand syndrome), and depicting this narration is out of fashion too.

        I would go further and say – SHASHI DOES NOT REPRESENT A TYPICAL WELL TO DO MIDDLE CLASS FAMILY HOUSEWIFE.

        She was timid, lacking in self confidence, unable to correct her daughter’s behaviour, and teach her the real ‘values’ for judging (rather than English), and a bunch of other such things.

        So IMO;

        >making a heroine out of the housewife/ mother archetype and depicting the world through her perspective is a pretty big deal

        The film was good as you say in depicting the world through HER perspective, as an individual with her own personal characteristics of behaviour, and what she was thinking.

        It’s a FILM ABOUT SHASHI!!!

        Like

        • LOL! Why so much capitalization and exclamation and angst? 😛

          Like

          • To my mind Sashi definitely represents the ‘every woman’- I’m not saying that it is the most accurate portrayal possible- as Paapaas and you rightly note, Sashi is made out to be more of a victim that necessary- but it’s very clear that the character ‘coding’ in terms of attire, values etc is meant to represent a ‘respectable’, ‘good’ Indian middle class housewife- and to then have such a film made about this character is noteworthy IMO.

            Like

          • And BTW- the ‘maa’ is still very much depicted as (and glorified for) being self-sacrificing. She might not be forgoing food anymore- it is subtler, but it is still there.

            Take Sashi for instance- she doesn’t sacrifice food, but she does sacrifice self-respect at the beginning of the movie when she silently tolerates all the jokes that her family make about her despite her working so hard to serve them. And this type of mother is quite common, even in today’s cinema- take Ranbir’s mother in Wake Up Sid! who puts up with all of insolence, for instance. The difference is that in the other movies it is the child/ husband who is shown as reforming (if at all) while the mother/wife remains passive- in EV, for once, Sashi is shown actively altering her destiny, and this is a good thing IMO.

            Like

          • >LOL! Why so much capitalization and exclamation and angst?

            😀 For emphasis.

            BTW what does the word ‘angst’ really represent in American (?) terms.
            In German (and Swiss German) it means ‘fear’. I think my comment showed passion, and enthusiasm, to bring my point across. There was no fear.

            Like

          • I didn’t mean that your comment sounded fearful- just passionately agitated at being misunderstood. 😛

            Like

          • As far as I’m concerned, I don’t think she’s sacrificing anything when she ‘tolerates’ the insults – she just doesn’t have the guts to do anything about it, nor the self confidence – most probably she believes herself to be lesser than others because she makes ladoos which are inferior to English.

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  44. Yes indeed it is a big deal. My point was about the movie rather than the central character. I do agree with you that a normal housewife without becoming a bandit Queen or a Sonia Gandhi shone in the movie and deservedly so.

    Like

  45. Ok guys I’m not sure what’s going on here and I’m not going to name anyone for now but I have doubts about a few of the IDs here. The clue here is the spelling of a certain word. Exactly the same mistake crops up with all of these IDs. Would be a remarkable coincidence if it were just that. I’m going to watch stuff closely on this front and might well block someone without warning.

    Like

  46. Missed the drama!
    Posting with different identities on a blog is a form of cowardliness I have little patience for. If you cant own up to what you are saying, better not say it.
    Mind you several of us show up with slightly different IDs depending on the email address used. But, usually there is no doubt about the identity in such cases.

    Like

  47. Hmm seems ‘ashi’ has again’ disappeared
    It was good fun n games -& entertainment –thigh obviously Amy would be angry with her comment.
    Also the personal (avoidable) comment about amy meant that it may be Amy’s friend or flatmate who knows Amy well–just guessing..
    Ps: amy: it maybe your ‘flatm8’ etc..
    Don’t be scared ashi —u also have a right 2 express your thoughts like others…

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  48. Saw the movie yesterday and it was quite a gem. Ami and Q’s reviews nicely encapsulate why this movie seems to have captured everyone who’s seen it. My only quibble is with the broadly drawn stereotypes in the Mind Your Language section, but that’s a minor irritant. Sridevi’s really managed to embody this character and now I understand what Rangan was referring to when he described this as silent movie acting…

    Like

  49. Did someone delete my comment? Is that even allowed?

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  50. For Amy & other English vinglish fans… 🙂
    Came across –The making-EV

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  51. Sheetal Varma Says:

    Saw English Vinglish yesterday. Lovely movie. Knew it was cheesy but the end speech made me cry. loved the french guy ,his mooning over Sri could have easily been over the top but he played it so well. Can’t get his face out of my mind. wish they had shared a kiss atleast. Ok that’s all will go back to dreaming about him.

    Like

  52. Amy’s gettin famous
    Seems ‘busyday’ is Amy’s boy(uncle)friend 🙂
    Oops

    Like

  53. A vey good piece here on the film- link to Ami’s review is also there
    on the blog

    “And of course, Gauri Shinde, the person who brings this entire class act together. The women directors of Bollywood are truly special — well, if you take a similar statistical comparison with their male counterparts. They get the best out of their actors most of the times, their products are much more detailed and confined to the space they create, and they know how to handle the telling of a story. Gauri Shinde too, has created something truly spectacular. She has brought about an awareness for the general necessity for knowing how to speak and read English, and coupled it with the more individual struggle to succeed against odds. And all this from a woman’s perspective, one already with a ten-point deficit in her corner. And then, to succeed. That is where her brilliance is measured.”

    http://cinemascopeloid.wordpress.com/2012/12/01/breaking-the-language-barrier-english-vinglish/

    Like

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