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English Vinglish

A housewife, tucked away in a middle class Maharashtrian household in Pune, who dutifully gets up before her husband, readies a morning cuppa for her mother-in-law, fulfills every demand of her kids and also runs a part-time ladoo making business. Meet Shashi Godbole, who despite her best efforts, is an embarrassment to her family, but is a delight to watch, as Sridevi's effortless performance makes this one a winner from start to finish.

What's it about?
Shashi's (Sridevi) love and affection is mostly brushed aside by her husband and teenage daughter, due to her poor English-speaking skills. She finds herself in New York to attend her niece's wedding and it is then, that she secretly enrolls herself in an English speaking class or ‘tuitions’ as she calls it. The transformation of an unsure housewife into a confident person makes for the rest of ‘English Vinglish’.

Sridevi couldn’t have asked for a better comeback, with a script that is so simple, yet so strong. We always knew Sridevi wasn’t just a glamour doll, with movies like ‘Lamhe’ and ‘Sadma’ to her credit during her heydays, and with her convincing stammering dialogue delivery, her dressed-down avatar and expressive eyes, it feels like she never left.

Another woman who deserves a pat on the back is the writer and director of the film, Gauri Shinde. The script is clean, crisp and concise, and not a single actor disappoints, as Gauri’s fleshed out every character with great detail.

Adil Hussain as Shashi’s husband perfectly plays his part of the condescending spouse, who mocks his desi wife at every given opportunity. Sapna, Shashi’s snobbish teenage daughter, who feels humiliated to even take her mother to a PTA meeting at school, does justice to her role as you can’t help but feel irritated how she treats her mother. Sagar, Shashi’s pint-sized son, is adorable and brings a smile to her face and ours too. Not 'judgmental' like the others in his family, Sagar cheers Shashi up whenever she's down and even coaxes his mother to dance like Michael Jackson to lift her spirits.

To not mention Shashi's classmates is a crime we won’t commit. An American gay teacher, a Pakistani taxi driver, a Spanish nanny, a south Indian techie, a French chef, a Chinese hairdresser and an African recluse make up Shashi's class and gives us a serious 'Mind Your Language' deja vu. Amitabh Bachchan’s cameo is pleasant, and perfectly justifies the director’s ode at the start of the film. As the climax approaches, we thought the movie would have a ‘Bend it Like Beckham’-like dramatic end but thankfully there are no such last-minute flourishes and this perfectly suits the simple storyline that precedes.

What to do?
The film is a perfect comeback vehicle for Sridevi, whose performance alone earns the movie an additional 1/2 mark. ‘English Vinglish’ passes with flying colours. You could watch it over and over again. rating- 4.5/5

by Swati Deogire
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