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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Sep 2014

CRITICS VERDICT: Sridevi's English Vinglish a must-watch

Hindustantimes.com  New Delhi, October 03, 2012
First Published: 12:38 IST(3/10/2012) | Last Updated: 15:09 IST(4/10/2012)

Sridevi is the hero of the film, the loving mother, yearning wife, earnest student. Without being too preachy, or overdramatised, the narrative is perfectly balanced. As writer and director Gauri Shinde’s first film, English Vinglish is remarkable, feel critics.

"One needs to applaud the endeavor because films like Paan Singh Tomar, Kahaani, Vicky Donor, GOW 1 and 2, Barfi!, also last week's OMG - Oh My God! and now English Vinglish, hi-concept films all, take the unconventional route, yet enlighten and entertain, both. Sure, masala movies are great fun, but a film like English Vinglish breaks the monotony, shatters the unwritten rules of the game and scores brownie points. Cinema is rapidly changing and one can connect with viewers across the globe even without making the usual mainstream Hindi movie. English Vinglish proves it!" writes Taran Adarsh, Bollywood Hungama.

English Vinglish"In line with Cheeni Kum and Paa, English Vinglish is as beautifully crafted as the earlier two films. All three films deal with poignant issues, yet present them with a near perfect balance of comedy, drama and emotion. You will laugh along with the characters and you will also be emotional with them, which draws you closer to the narrative and in this case Shashi’s journey. Here full credit has to go to Gauri Shinde, who also wrote the story and screenplay. Without being too preachy, or overdramatised, as mentioned the narrative is perfectly balanced. With only a  2 hour and 10 minute running time, the editing is crisp and credit here has to go the Hamanti Sarkar. What is quite a simple and universal concept was written and edited so well, that it provided so many extra layers to the film," says Anjum Shabbir, BollySpice.com.

"Far more often, though, English Vinglish is traditional Bollywood escapism, a lightly enjoyable trifle featuring exuberant musical interludes, an extremely chaste approach to conjugal relations and extramarital temptation, and a crowdpleasing wrap-up that allows the lead character to be all she can be while still respecting family values," writes Joe Leydon, Variety.com.

"Tame superficiality is indeed the biggest bane of English Vinglish, which, for the most part, is otherwise reasonably watchable, especially owing to a charming performance by Sridevi, back on the big screen after a 15-year hiatus," writes Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV.

"A star is reborn and one wants to fall in love with her all over again. But despite the temptation, it is eventually too docile an affair to send the heart pounding and the pulse racing. English Vinglish, for all its surface gloss and clean family entertainer aspirations, doesn’t possess that little something needed to turn a one-dimensional account of the makeover of an unassuming homemaker into a convincing, universal drama about a woman’s empowerment, adds Chatterjee.




Sridevi back with a bang
"English Vinglish is unimaginable without Sridevi. Correspondingly, I don't think Sridevi could've got a more cohesive script to return to movies. This is unlike what the actress has done in the past. Think of Sridevi and you recall films Like Himmatwala, Chaalbaaz, Nagina, Mr. India, Chandni, Lamhe, Khuda Gawah, Laadla and Judaai. But the supremely talented actress also has non-glam roles like the one in Sadma to her credit. She returns to the big screen in a role that's sans the frills, spectacle and theatrics and yet wins hearts. She's stellar, in terrific form, immersing herself in this character, playing her age… so much so that after a point you forget you're watching someone who has immortalized so many characters. What you carry home, and in your heart, is Shashi, a woman who is snubbed by her children and husband on various occasions for her lack of English-language skills, but overpowers her apprehensions and insecurities and emerges triumphant eventually," says Adarsh.




"After a 15 year hiatus and still remembered fondly for her last powerful performance in Judaai opposite Anil Kapoor and Urmila Matondkar, Sridevi ruled the late 80s and early 90s. After watching English Vinglish, you will thoroughly welcome her return. At 49 years Sridevi still has it! Unlike her on and off screen, glamorous avatar, here she is presented as a simple down to earth mother. Her portrayal of Sashi is sensitive and uplifting, with Sridevi really managing to get under the skin of the character. Not once do you associate her with any of her previous roles or persona. As far as comebacks go, in comparison to Madhuri Dixit’s comeback (Aaja Nachle) and Karishma Kapoor (Dangerous Ishhq), this is by far the best comeback vehicle – an author backed role, in a beautifully crafted film, which not only does justice to the actress herself, but also her fans," feels Shabbir.

"Disarmingly charming in a manner that recalls Audrey Hepburn, Sridevi plays Shashi, a thirtysomething Pune wife and mom whose culinary expertise and other homemaking skills are routinely taken for granted by her husband and two children. Worse, her spouse and kids repeatedly tease her about her inability (or unwillingness) to master English, which they see as yet another sign of her tradition-bound mindset," says Leydon.

"There’s a reason why people get nostalgic about the actors of then, and Sridevi, as Shashi, is nothing short of reminding us why. She is the hero of the film, the loving mother, yearning wife, earnest student… you could just wax eloquent about her. There are moments when the trembling meekness gets to you, but they are very rare," says Roshni Devi, Koimoi.com.

Other performances
"French actor Mehdi Nebbou is just right. Even when he's speaking in French, the expression that he conveys says it all and that is the hallmark of a fine actor. However, when he speaks in French, subtitles in English were essential for the viewer to decipher or decode and would have adjoined considerable value to those extremely significant sequences. Amitabh Bachchan is simply fantastic in a cameo. Wish there was more of this legendary actor! Navika Kotia, enacting the role of the daughter, is first-rate, but it is the child actor, Shivansh Kotia, Sridevi's son, who is endearing and steals your heart with his adorable antics. Sulbha Deshpande is admirable," feels Adarsh.

"Sridevi's classmates, each of them, pitch in neat performances. Right from the taxi driver from Pakistan to a South Indian guy to a Mexican nanny and of course, the English teacher, everyone stands out in their respective parts," adds Adarsh.

"The film has a clutch of fine performances. Both Adil Hussain and Mehdi Nebbou, despite their sketchily written roles, are solid. Priya Anand as the niece turns in a noteworthy performance. But it is Sridevi who is obviously the soul of English Vinglish," feels Chatterjee.

"This is the first time in her legendary career that Sridevi has worked with a female director and to that, I can only say, Gauri Shinde was the right choice! That Sridevi chose to step out after 15 long years from her cocoon of marital bliss for English Vinglish is definitely something audiences won’t forget for a long time simply because they have been spoiled by her incredible acting skills all over again! That too, sans the song and dance numbers and her body writhing in studio rain to a Kaate nahin kat te track ala Mr India! It’s like leave the acting to Sridevi and the “shacting” is best left to the rest of her ilk," feels Rubina A Khan, First Post.




Direction

"Gauri Shinde shines in her directorial debut. With a diploma in filmmaking from the New York Film Academy, she displays a fine control of her filmmaking craft, from the script, to drawing excellent performances from her cast, to the look and feel of the film. Unlike many of the Bollywood films shot in New York and abroad generally, Gauri manages to capture real middle-class, immigrant, diaspora life in New York.  Further, her characters and dialogues are real and unlike the cliches we have become accustomed to," says Shabbir.

"As writer and director Gauri Shinde’s first film, English Vinglish is remarkable! The characters are well researched and written and cast appropriately. At any point, the script doesn’t break away from its central plot line, which is Shashi and her small world, into random scenes, which is wonderful and rare. Shinde pulls off the pace of the film just right and the background score and music add to the story’s flow," says Khan.

"Gauri Shinde makes a fabulous debut as director. Amit Trivedi’s music is really good, especially the Navrai Majhi (excellent timing, especially when Shashi introduces her classmates) and title tracks. Editor Hemanti Sarkar has done an apt job. Laxman Utekar’s cinematography gives you such wonderful scenes. The script, the performances, the cinematography, music sync gorgeously on screen," says Devi.

Script
"The first half of the movie could have been a bit faster. Considering how meek Shashi is shown to be, her going out to find the English class across town all on her own is far-fetched. Once she has been established as the disregarded housewife, adding further to it just seems like trying to milk the audience’s tears. Shashi’s husband and children have not been characterized well (heartless mostly)," writes Roshni Devi, Koimoi.com.

Sridevi walks the ramp at DCW

Conclusion
"On the whole, English Vinglish is a remarkable motion picture. It's amusing, emotional, heartrending and also insightful. An inspiring film with an overwhelming message. A must-watch for every parent, every child. Strongly recommended!" says Adarsh.

"Overall an extremely praiseworthy film. Excellent performances, especially from Sridevi. A beautifully crafted film. One for the entire family and universal audiences. Easily one of the best films of the year! To the team of English Vinglish: encore, encore!" concludes Shabbir.

"Forget comebacks and special appearances, watch this movie for a woman who steps out of her family’s shadow and learns to love herself," concludes Devi.

Twitter Buzz
@anupamachopra: .@SrideviBKapoor is absolute magic in English Vinglish. A 15-year sabbatical but not a trace of rust. Welcome back!

@AnupamPkher: English Vinglish is Spectacularly Beautiful. Film with a Golden Heart. Take a bow Gauri Shinde.Sridevi, ORIGINAL QUEEN OF CINEMA is BACK.:)

@AniGuha: Day packed with movies. Now watching: ENGLISH VINGLISH. Then, PVR Director's Rare film PAIRON TALLE. And later in the day, CHITTAGONG.

@BhawanaSomaaya: For more on English Vinglish wait till the weekend for my review on 92.7 Big FM. Suno sunao life banao...

@konkonas: Have to say I'm really looking forward to watching Sridevi in her new film English Vinglish!

@shekharkapur: English Vinglish is not just a film about Sridevi learning English. It's a funny heartwarming story of a woman coming in2 her own



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