In Pune, India, Shashi (Sri Devi) is a middle-class ‘good’ Hindu housewife. She lives for her husband and two kids, who take her for granted, making fun of her traditional ways, especially her broken English. When Shashi’s New York-based sister invites the family over for a wedding, Shashi travels ahead to be the wedding planner and secretly (why?) enrols in a four-week crash course in English, which improves not only her language skills but also her confidence.
Her fellow students include hunky French chef Laurent (Mehdi Nebbou), who’s smitten with Shashi. When her family arrive for the wedding, she must decide whether to go back to humdrum life in India or start a new life with her French beau. If only! Since this is a mainstream Bollywood film, the conservative script never gives our female protagonist much of a choice. Shashi is less ‘Shirley Valentine’, more Laura from ‘Brief Encounter’.
First-time female director Gauri Shinde disappointingly adopts a sugary approach. But while the film’s sexual politics may be dubious it nevertheless addresses the real language issue facing modern ‘shining’ India, where most people of a certain class do communicate in English. The film’s gay sensibilities are also spot-on.
As is to be expected in a star vehicle, Devi features in almost every scene. But hers is a subdued, one-note performance, largely devoid of the trademark starry, wide-eyed antics of her Bollywood peak in the 1980 and ’90s. A capable supporting cast and a fun cameo from a male megastar add to the appeal of this slight, enjoyable but ultimately predictable journey.
Cast and crew
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Hmmmm. I was so looking forward to Sridevi on the big screen again....have her eyes grown but body shrunk btw?! I'm glad you bring up the issue of gender politics and the failings within Indian cinema on this subject are glaringly obvious....maybe Gauri Shinde will take note... as for the caramelisation....well this is Indian cinema!
I couldn't wait to see Sridevi hold a film again and the topic is so very current. Her eyes btw seem to have grown and her body has shrunk. I was looking forward to Gauri Shinde's debut too and I don't mind the caramelised approach as this is Hindi cinema after all! Your review is bang on and it's good to bring up gender politics as a weak point in Indian filmaking.
The comment you tyIt's encouraging to see that a forty plus actress can still have a role that seems completely written for her. Sridevi stands tall with a commendable performance which is so well nuanced. She is spot on as the sensitive wife and mother, who is only looking for some respect; her body language changes as she learns the language and feels more confident of herself; you can understand her restlessness when she wants to quietly slip away for her English class. The best thing about her is that she doesn't try to play to the gallery by doing jhatkas and thumkas at this age. She lets her acting speak for her, forget any rust, Sridevi seems to have got better at her craft with age.pe in this box will appear on the site
Wasn't thinking of seeing it and won't be seeing it at all now after reading this thorough review. Anil is a source you can trust!