Sunday, October 14, 2012

The English Vinglish In My Blog Vlog

The recently released Hindi film,'English Vinglish', about a woman who cannot speak English and her experiences when she reaches America, is proving to be a big hit in India.  This is not surprising for many can relate to it - those who find themselves in a changing world where English is a requirement or those who reach the US and encounter moments of extreme rudeness and unexpected sensitivity.

It is a good attempt to bring these aspects together and one wonders why such movies have not been made earlier.  The characters are well developed and thoughtfully drawn out (especially the ones with smaller roles) and all the actors are very convincing.  Sridevi, of course, is superb (much better than in many of her previous, glamourized roles) and the film really revolves around her.  The plot begins excellently and has tremendous promise but seems to lose course mid-way.  Though the story could have taken many interesting directions, it tends to drift towards overly sentimental, spiel-filled scenes.  This is unfortunate, for several reasons.

The primary reason is that the movie contains more than a grain of truth and a lot of women around the country relate to it.  It would have been good to have seen a little more spirit and activity packed in.  This is especially true of Manhattan (where the film is set), which is an amazing kind of place.  This is a place filled with people from all over the world with different income levels, an area where streets change character rapidly and distinctly as people shuffle in and out.  An Indian, saree clad lady is bound to have adventures of all kinds while walking down the streets of New York.  (How I wish that Paul Gallico or H.R.F. Keating had been in charge of script writing!)

The second reason for wanting more from the film is because learning a new language (especially along with other students) is always an interesting experience.  Languages open new doors and the film could have explored this in a little more detail.

The third reason is that foreign countries are always mysterious - unexpected hurdles come up in the simplest possible forms.  Also, the life style of NRIs (Non Resident Indians) is a curious mix of Indian customs (as they remember them) thrown together with the conveniences and demands of their new surroundings.  In this case, Shashi (Sridevi's character) had much to offer her NRI sister but, unfortunately, this part of the story was not dwelt on in any detail.

Nonetheless, English Vinglish is a film worth watching.  It is a film that stays with you for a bit and offers plenty to think and talk about.

I am attaching below a link to the official trailer (with English subtitles).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ki0A9bOoyq8

I am also attaching a link to one of the songs (with the lyrics).  This is a catchy, lighthearted song in English and Hindi, with incredible words like 'Aflatoon' thrown in.  (Aflatoon is the Persian name for Plato, though it is now used colloquially in different ways.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkUfx6gWA9c

And finally - an explanatory note about the manner in which Hindi is spoken (for those unfamiliar with the language).  When the main word is followed by another apparently meaningless rhyming word, it is done to indicate that you are referring to things related with the first word, in a general sort of way.  For example, 'chai shai' would mean not just tea but a little snack and perhaps some gossip.  Similarly, 'English Vinglish' roughly means 'All Those English Things'.  A vague term but one that provides scope for discussing all kinds of things - a language, a way of thinking, a newspaper, an experience and more, as the film indicates.

7 comments:

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Dheena Dhayalan said...
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