Is language a barrier to communicate our emotions? Wonder why people look down or take jibe at those who lack knowledge of English? Director Gauri Shinde has set out to find answers to these questions through 'English Vinglish'.
Sridevi is back to play the female protagonist, and Gauri Shinde treads the path taken by her husband Balki in films like 'Cheeni Kum' and 'Paa'. She has chosen to narrate things in a simple way without any melo-drama.
Watching the Tamil version doesn't rob you of the excitement, for the problems and agony of a Hindi-speaking or Tamil-speaking woman, who has no knowledge of English, are the same. The film speaks a universal language and an emotional chord strikes the audience.
Gauri Shinde has chosen to weave the script around the travails of a middle-aged housewife ridiculed by her husband and daughter for not knowing English. The interesting point is that the director has laced the film with some witty writing and honest moments.
Sridevi as Sashi is picture perfect for a middle-aged house wife. She is soft-spoken and lovable, kind and a lot less intimidating. But not being well versed in English puts her in a trauma. Sashi loves to do things she like. But fear of communicating in English makes her a subject of mockery by her husband and daughter too.
Forced to go to New york for assisting her sister for a family wedding, the 'real' journey begins for Sashi. There she resolves to master the language and knocks the doors of a an institute. She is exposed to various cultures there - Pakistani cab driver, a Mexican old woman, a French chef and a Tam-Brahm, also joining the institute with a similar mission. Keen to realise her dreams, she puts in all efforts. Did they bear the fruits and did Sashi manage to give an extempore in English and win the respect of her family members forms the rest.
Three cheers to Gauri Shinde for the script is simple but razor sharp. It has all ingredients to grab your attention all through. Sridevi, who was last seen some 15 years ago, is back at her vintage best. The anger, agony, frustration and joy are brought out well by her. Her little nuances and body language adds more depth to her characterisation.
Adil Hussain as Sridevi's husband plays with such consummate ease while Mehdi Nebbou, who dons the role of a French chef who is smitten by Sashi, deserves a special mention for his wonderful performance. Ajith makes a guest appearance as co-passenger with Sridevi in a flight and a couple of his dialogues brings the roof down with laughter.
Shinde has managed to bring in an air of innocence and guilt in 'English Vinglish'. Finally it boils down to where we began. Is language a barrier to communicate our emotions?