A film like 'English Vinglish' could have gone wrong at many counts. It could have just gone into this over sentimental space where one may have been exposed to all the hardships Sridevi was going through due to her discomfort with English. It could have just gone into Shobhana starrer 'Mitr-My Friend' space where a middle-aged woman would have found love outside marriage in a foreign land. It could just have just turned into a mere showreel of sorts (ala Amitabh Bachchan's 'Buddha Hoga Tera Baap') for Sridevi where she would shown various facets of her acting talent (whether required or not in the film's context).
However 'English Vinglish' (fortunately) steers clear from all of that! It turns out to be a very entertaining piece of cinema that is not just heart felt and emotional, it is also a highly class affair where one can't help but say 'wow' at various junctures. The very fact that Gauri Shinde follows a balanced approach towards the film and Sridevi is just an ideal actor to enact this part makes 'English Vinglish' a film that just cannot be missed.
Quite often filmmakers claim that an actor would be forgotten for his/her past accomplishments and emerge as a character within first 15 minutes of the film. This indeed is the case with 'English Vinglish' where, after settling down to the fact that it is THE Sridevi back on the big screen, you want to know a lot about what Shashi has to offer. Just like her, even you are apprehensive whether she would rules of the foreign land. However the moment Amitabh Bachchan enters the scene in a guest appearance as Sridevi's co-passenger, you know that 'English Vinglish' has hit the nail hard, and how!
From this point on the film takes off in a big way. Sridevi's bonding with her sister and her daughters, the embarrassment she faces at the cafe, her first meeting with French cook (Mehdi Nebbou), the interaction she has with the front desk officer at the English coaching school, her first day in the class, every sequence featuring the class in progress and then a brilliant interval point where Sridevi finds a renewed confidence in herself, the film scores very highly and only makes one look forward to what rest of the film has to offer.
Post interval sequences are good as well though one does misses those 'tears in the eyes' moments that had build momentum in the first half. The subtle attraction between Sridevi-Mehdi is brought out well but somehow one does feel that the film isn't really moving ahead with similar momentum. There isn't any dip that the film takes but an exceptional first half makes one doubly excited about the second half and hence you want something exhilarating to follow soon.
This does happen once Sridevi's family joins her in US. However the best is reserved for the end when Sridevi gets it just right and says things as they are from the heart. The sequence here is to be seen to be believed because whatever said here will account to spoilers. However one thing is for sure that in every award nomination that Sridevi would score, this sequence would certainly play on screen.
Though others may not have got a platform to deliver an award winning performance, they play a good part in the film for sure. Adil is wonderful again as a husband who is natural to the core. Ditto for Mehdi who gets it perfectly right and is never off track. The ladies in Sridevi's life (daughter, sister, nieces) fit in well too while a special mention to the boy playing Sridevi's son who is cute without turning filmy. Amit Trivedi's background score and songs are top notch as well and aid in the emotional run of 'English Vinglish'. A very good job done. Even technically film has a polished look throughout.
When the First Look of 'English Vinglish' had arrived with Sridevi standing against a Censor certificate backdrop, there was a certain apprehension that had built up around the eventual content of the film. I for sure felt that it would not just turn a lot self indulgent, it would also be a self-conscious outing, both for Sridevi as well as first time director Gauri Shinde. Well, I was proved wrong, and how, what with 'English Vinglish' turning out to be a fantastic film that almost went into the Rajkumar Hirani space and ensured that there were all around moist eyes right through it's play.