Monday, November 19, 2012

Of Diwali and English Vinglish

Hmmm.. long time no see..

I don't know where to begin. It was a roller coaster week. By the time Sunday came I was lost.

So it was Diwali the last week. We had a Diwali function in college on October 29 itself, so there was nothing to look forward to. I had a full day class till 5 on Tuesday with an assignment due the next day. So celebrating Diwali was not on the agenda. But the good part was that my roommate's wife came over for Diwali. She had got the 'jalebi' mix from India. She made some 'jalebis' and we did a small pooja. It felt weird celebrating Diwali away from home but I guess home is where the heart is and I don't know where my heart is. Mummy called and she keeps saying such things which I don't want to hear. Always tries to make me emotional like she said "tujhe hamari yaad aati hai"...ab what do I respond to this?!?! Moms are funny. But as I always say it is only mummy and papa who are there always. Rest all people can only show concern but it's them only who stand by you always. Like Gloria said in another brilliant episode this week on Modern Family

"Making a child is the easy part; The hard part is everything that comes after: keeping them safe, making sacrifices for them, and standing by them even when they let you down.” 

I gifted myself a packet of cashew nuts. (Fact: In this country, peanuts and cashew nuts cost the same). You remember in Dil To Pagal Hai, on Valentine's Day, Pooja (Madhuri) bought gifts for herself because she felt that on Valentine's Day, you give gifts to people you love, since she did not have a boyfriend, so she gave gifts to her own self.

No one will give gifts to me here I bought some for my own. As I was thinking last week also to love yourself, what better way is than to gift yourself something. And as always, the cosmic connection theory comes into play. Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi posted such a beautiful and touching message. How can anybody use words to create something that goes and touches the deepest inner nerve in your body! He wrote:

Sometimes I wonder why people – friends, lovers, allies – leave our lives. The answer is: They do because they do. But the more who leave the chambered heart, the more it is returned to its authentic silence, its original darkness. Every diya you light tonight is a remembrance that the person you have been waiting for to return is so deep in memory it not possible for them to leave: you are the sum total of all you have known together. In the darkness of their departure, when you are entirely alone, the sort of alone comparable to old oaks and sentinels, know that everyday you wake up you are already in the best company: Yourself. Everything is just right. Happy Diwali 2012.

It so relates to what I had been feeling the entire week. I don't know how many times I have read this. Loved it.



That's Jalebi (no.. not me but in my hand)

I somehow found out English Vinglish is available online. I signed up for Netflix. It wasn't there. I then searched Eros. I found it there. I cannot watch a bad print movie. And torrents are not allowed here. So I specially paid for the subscription. I cannot live without Hindi movies. I was planning a trip to Chicago just because I want to watch Jab Tak Hai Jaan but it didn't materialize :( Will have to wait. So I finally saw English Vinglish. I loved loved loved every bit of it.

Sridevi is fabulous. Can you believe she hasn't done a film in fifteen years? How spontaneous and naturally she played the role of Shashi. If I ask you to do something you did fifteen years ago, would you be able to do it with the same perfection? It is very easy to say this but think of it in your real life. Can you still do a  thing which you do fifteen years ago. Sridevi is lovely in the movie. During her interview with Anupama she gave a terrific answer.

Anupama: I remember watching you during the shooting of “Chandni” and you were sitting when they were setting up the lights and not really talking to people but when Yash Chopra would say “action,” you would just transform completely. Is it still like that? Are you still a switch-on-switch-off actor?

Sridevi: I’m the same. I always believe in one thing: that acting should be from here [heart] not from your mind. I don’t believe in planning things. It has to come from your heart.

Acting from the heart. She truly does that. Look at those scenes with Shashi and her son Sagar. Such moments of perfection Sridevi brings to a character.

The most beautiful part of English Vinglish was the conversations between Shashi and Laurent. They both couldn't speak to each other and yet they perfectly understood what the other is trying to say. They shared a beautiful bond and as they say love has no barriers, it was shown as well. I could watch the film again and again just for the scenes between them.

Here are the English translated version of what Laurent said to Shaa-shee

They are sitting at the road side cafe and she laughs after realizing that she ordered in impeccable English, he says , "il fait plaisir de te voir rire" - which means it is a pleasure to see you laughing.

The day before their final meeting, on the phone he says "Shashi I fell in love with you..can’t help it..despite me knowing that...and obviously I will be pleased to see u cup of coffee maybe"

In the last wedding scene he says, "You will remain very special to me and I will cherish the moments spent with you for the rest of my life..”

One of my favorite scenes in the movie was when Laurent takes Shashi to the top of the building and she sees the beautiful city of New York. I thought that it was his way of making her see a new perspective, to see a world from new eyes. He is trying to open her heart, symbolic of the open space of the city that he is trying to show. He is trying to make her realize that she is at the top herself. In one of the earlier scenes, he explained to Shashi that she is an artist. When Shashi says, मर्द खाना बनाये तो कला है.. औरत खाना बनाये तो फ़र्ज़.. He then says to her, Food is love, You cook (sic) with love. Good Food. You make people happy. You are an artist.

Laurent was awesome. What acting has Mehdi Nebbou done. His expressions were so genuine as if he is really in love with Shashi. The way he emoted was fantastic. And as usual, I loved him because he didn't expect anything in return. He knew she was married but didn't expect anything except a cup of coffee. He used to take the same train as Shashi although he lived the other side so that he could spend some time with her. When she refused a coffee, he said if they could go for a walk. What else could he get no? And he would remember these moments forever. I want to know what happened to Laurent later :(

He is obviously in love with her!

And I loved Shashi because I could relate to her so much. While watching her scenes of coming to the US, it was like I was re-running my journey again. When she is sitting in the plane, she isn't able to figure out how to use the earplugs. When I was in the plane, I spent half an hour on how to use those earplugs with my co-passenger smirking at me. When she is trying to use the metro, she gets stuck and the guard helps her. But slowly, she gets used to it. I was lost when I sat in a bus here. But now I can go anywhere. In one scene, she says why do they keep numbers on the streets, why not simply name them. She was under confident about her life, whether she will be able to travel and survive. I couldn't help but think about the parallels between me and Shashi. When she gave the final speech I was shedding copious tears :( She said, "No body can help you better than you. If you do that, you will return back feeling equal. Your life will be beautiful. Family can never be judgmental. Family will never put you down. Family will never make you feel small." It's brilliant and totally what I had been thinking before. Cosmic connections no? :) Watch the speech here.

Gauri Shinde (wife of Balki who made Cheeni Kum and Paa) has truly done a commendable job. She dedicated the film to her mother. This is the story of every mother in some way no? Would be waiting for her next film :)

FT ranked her on the list of 25 people to watch for:

My favorite dialogues:

मुझे प्यार की नहीं इज्ज़त की ज़रुरत है

हम सब अलग है, तुम्हारे लिए वो normal नहीं है, उनके लिए शायद तुम normal नहीं हो। दिल तो दिल है न, दर्द तो दर्द है न..

पही बार एक ही बार आता है, पहला अनुभव बहुत ही स्पेशल होता है, एन्जॉय बेशक बेफिक्र बिंदास

Entrepreneur...शब्द नहीं हुआ, ग़ज़ल हो गयी।

यह कैसी मासूमियत है जो हर पल हमारी कमजोरी का फायदा उठाती है, सब कुछ सिखाया जा सकता है पर किसी की भावनाओं का ख्याल रखना कैसे सिखाया जाये।

Every child should see English stop treating moms as an embarrassment. When you do something embarrassing, she is the one who will come and stand by us. Natasha Bhadwar wrote a column on English Vinglish. I did not read it when she posted it but I just read it yesterday. It's too good. Read it here:

The next time Shashi’s husband laughs off her entrepreneurial venture and “jokes” that his wife was born to make laddoos, I want to hear her rejoinder. Say something witty, sharp and satisfying.

Shashi’s children need to hear her speak up. They will learn from their mother how to stand up to put-downs in their own lives. It will take more than just Shashi’s functional English to heal this family.

I want to see this woman confidently declare her aspirations to her family in their living room. No more guilty secrets. No silent tears.

I have some more things to write that completely spoilt my mood on Saturday and Sunday. I felt so low because of some things. I will write later.

Dialogue of the Day:
जब अपने आप को पसंद नहीं करते है तो अपने से जुडी हर चीज़ अच्छी नहीं लगती, नयी चीज़ें आकर्षित करती है, जब अपने आप को प्यार करने लगते है, तो वोह पुरानी  ज़िन्दगी भी नयी  लगने लगती है।
 - Shashi, Enlgish Vinglish

P.S. - If only I could learn this myself.


  1. nice post Pankaj...loved the lines on the people "leaving you".

    I loved "Gustakh Dil" from English Vinglish...esp the lyrics. What do you think?

  2. I also loved Gustakh Dil. The song is awesome. I also like the Marathi folk song..very peppy..Amit Trivedi continues to be a rockstar! He is one man to watch out for :)

  3. I'm watching this movie for the second time right now. I just love it so much! Especially the scenes between Laurent and Shashi! It's so refreshing to see a love story like theirs. AND everything about Shashi, the first time she went to the cafe was just so relate-able! Great review!

  4. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for translating Laurent's dialogues! I searched for subtitles everywhere but they were only for the Hindi dialogues of the movie.
    Now I realize what he said on the phone, I am crying again. The story was kind of unfair. Laurent's character was so amazing, I really wanted to see him happy.
    And Sridevi is totally amazing! :D

  5. I want to second the gratitude that Anonymous expressed two years back about getting English translations for Laurent's French lines. I especially wanted to know what he said at the very end to Shashi. Even though I know some French, he spoke too fast for me to completely understand what he was saying. So thank you very much for supplying this information -- much appreciated!

  6. There's a song "Dhak dhuk" in the movie (when she's leaving for the airport). .I have seen the movie like 20 times and I never noticed the song...and recently I did... The song is so very beautiful, so innocent. .the music and lyrics are as beautiful as they can come. Do listen to it if you please.
    PS- You have a great blog. Keep up the good work. All the best.


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