80 / 100 VERY GOOD!
‘If the son of a doctor becomes a doctor, the son of an engineer, an engineer, then won’t the daughter of a domestic worker become a domestic worker?’ A mother of a stubborn young girl who lives in a shanty town in Agra decides that she is going to prove her daughter’s statement wrong. And we get to watch a delightful film on relationships, on tenacity, on education…
Swara Bhaskar is one of the most amazing actors we have in the movies today. Most heroines today would not even dream of playing the role of a mother of a 15 year old because it usually spells the death of their careers as ‘heroines’ in Hindi films. Swara manages to convince us that she is can be the three job holding, hard-working maid who hopes that her child won’t have to struggle the way she has had to all her life.
The child though just wants to play and be the lazy teenager we have all been. Who wants to study when there’s distractions offered by TV and dance and movies? Who wants to study hard when it is more fun playing hooky with school-friends? Why make the effort when you can have more fun sitting in the back bench, laughing at the Principal?
Swara works as a cook and domestic help at the home of a doctor (played by Ratna Pathak Shah) who is not only her sounding board but also guide. The memsaab has a wonderful solution to bring the child out of her stupor. Reverse logic!
The movie is just so amazing because the solution brings a smile to your face. The mother uses this reverse logic on the child to egg her on to getting better marks. The child is unsuspecting and falls hook, line and sinker to the ‘project get the child to study’.
Pankaj Tripathi the principal plus mathematics teacher is simply brilliant as a sum of all teachers caricatured from our lives. Although exaggerated, he is simply brilliant.
The classmates of the daughter are all delightful too, even though we don’t know their names as actors and no listing is available right now…
The intermission comes so quickly upon us, you know you are immersed in this world and understand their language (Hindi spoken like someone less educated than you or I). It’s only in the second half that the preachiness creeps in slowly and subtly. But it’s there. There is no escaping the ‘larger message’ the film is trying to teach. You grit your teeth and bear it because you like the characters so much. The last Pursuit of Happyness style ending is so bad, you want to shake someone up and say could you simply just tell a story and allow the audience to make up their minds about the importance of never losing hope and dreaming big without you having to explain it all?
This is a precious little gem of a film, despite it’s obvious moral science lesson. Watch!
(appears on www.nowrunning.com )