English Vinglish Movie

Once in a while, I get a rare request from my wife to join her for watching a movie in a theatre (I keep getting comments about how my blog is full of spelling mistakes, I was surprised at first and later realized that the comments came from America! For the attention of my readers, I use English English, not the American English while writing, as I have been brought up in that tradition!! Nothing wrong with American English which tries to save some letters and reduce the length of words, but I would rather stick to what I have learnt. Hence I have to keep “adding” to the Dictionary in Microsoft Word quite often, as otherwise normal English spelling is underlined with red ink!!!).

So, this time my wife’s suggestion was to go and see “English Vinglish” a very recent movie shot almost entirely in New York, with Sri Devi as the lead actress (she is a famous actress but did not act in movies for the past 15 years). What a terrific comeback for her to the movies!

While there is not much of a story content in “English Vinglish”, the message conveyed is very powerful – that we often tend to be judgemental in our relationships with our immediate family members, and take them for granted. We typecast and stereotype our own loving folks into silos from which they are unable to break free in the normal course of our lives.

What a pity?!

Especially when the person who we are casually “denigrating” is our own mother.

This movie forces us to think through carefully and even assign an “economic value” to our mothers and wives – it is not surprising that the Indian Government is now thinking of imposing a salary requirement on husbands whose wives work at home, meaning these husbands who benefit by the home work done by their wives need to pay them a salary.

Well, that is not the key point. The main point is that if our mom does not know English, that is not the end of the world and there is no need for us to feel shy and ashamed. In fact, we must make attempt to teach our moms basic English so that they could handle themselves comfortably in the presence of English-only strangers, or while travelling abroad, or even while meeting sophisticated English-speaking rich parents at their daughter’s school (as shown in this movie).

The movie reminds me of the TV Series “Mind Your Language” which was hilarious. While the English teaching classes in “English Vinglish” were not so hilarious, there is enough reason to laugh out at some of the outbursts of the attendees and the idiosyncracies of the teacher.

Overall, Sri Devi has done a commendable job in this movie, and her speech at the wedding reception was an amazing display of a measured actress with immense skills. All the best to the revival of her acting career (though her face looks a bit artificial in this movie, don’t know why).

This is an important addition to the Bollywood genre of movies, authored and directed by a relatively unknown director from the advertising world. Worth seeing with your moms!


Vijay Srinivasan
13th October 2012


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