Films are known to portray a part of us, perhaps an alter-ego that we relate to the most. But at times, there are films that reflect the whole of us or a part of society through an individual’s tale, leaving a lot for us to learn in return. One of such impactful film for me is Gauri Shinde’s English Vinglish.
A film which could be categorised in ‘Slice of Life’ genre, has a powerful message for the society on a global level. What distinguishes it from most of the contemporary films is the ethnicity and simplicity of its protagonist. The film is about an Indian housewife who is devoted to her family and is willing to make personal sacrifices to let her kids and significant other grow in their lives, despite having dreams of creating an identity for herself.
Now, there are a lot of things one can take from this films as life lessons. Some of them, I’ll be bifurcating in my analysis below.
The Emotional Thread: As mentioned above, Shashi, the protagonist portrayed by Sridevi was full of dreams and the willingness to create an identity for herself, but the only thing that held her back was the responsibility of her household that had to be balanced out, for her husband kept busy in his work. But in her free time, she kept herself occupied with making Ladoos (sweet delicacy) and delivered it to other households, which clearly shows her passion and her ambitiousness to create a niche for herself despite being tangled with the inevitable responsibilities.
Need for Self Esteem: Since Shashi was entangled with her household responsibilities and raising her family, she didn’t really bother exploring the world and hence, one of the major drawbacks, as shown in the film, was her not being able to understand and speak English in its entirety, which caused embarrassment for her kids and a reason to not feel equivalent to her husband in terms of respect. It became an evermore reason for her to find a way to prove her worth to her own family.
Self Doubt: The actual plot of this film begins when Shashi’s elder sister invites her family to New York for her daughter’s wedding, and Shashi has to leave two weeks early all by herself to help her Sister in wedding preps. She hesitantly agrees to leave and somehow manages to reach New York by seeking help from native passengers and people. Her willpower to go out by herself and explore something drastically new shows the importance of overcoming your dilemmas and teaches you to be fearless.
Struggle to Cope: As Shashi reaches there, she happens to spend a lot of time by herself, travelling around and exploring the city. It was her niece who takes her to Manhattan for a tour, but then Shashi has to spend some time in that city of strangers by herself. She realises her struggle is real when she gets ridiculed by a coffee-shop waitress for not being able to decide and place her order in time. She ends up leaving the cafe feeling embarrassed and guilty. But then, she happens to take a glimpse of a banner on the Bus, which is about ‘Learn to Speak English in 4 weeks’.
Self Realisation: The public humiliation made Shashi want to learn to English. She then contacted the class seeking details and finds out that its doable within the span she’ll be spending in the U.S. What caught my attention was her reckless willpower of wanting to overcome her limitations. This is where one can explicitly decipher the concept of Survival of the Fittest.
Self Actualisation: The real essence of the film unfurls towards the end when Shashi has finally completed the English Speaking course but is unable to appear for the evaluation test due to its clash with the family wedding. But, in those four weeks, the students in that class manage to bond with each other and they show up at the wedding. Nervous yet undaunted, Shashi delivers her wedding speech in English applying all that she had learned in those 4 weeks, leaving everyone’s jaw dropped and teary-eyed. It’s the second most emotional scene in the film after the cafeteria one.
Although the film has been set in a location abroad, it doesn’t fail to deliver the traditional homey vibe the viewers. Every shot is one finest piece of art in itself, which manages to capture every emotion in that frame.