Full of laughter-'shaughter', Sridevi's comeback film "English-Vinglish" made its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) on Tuesday.
The former Bollywood queen, who was last seen in "Judaai" in 1997, didn't disappoint her fans by turning in a stellar performance in the role of a neglected housewife, Shashi, who is slighted by her kids and husband at every opportunity for her lack of English-language skills.
But Shashi has the last laugh when she secretly acquires a good command of English and gets back her self-respect while on a visit to New York to attend her sister's daughter's wedding.
For an actress who was away from the big screen for 15 years, Sridevi has played her comeback role as the winsome, self-esteem-deficit housewife with aplomb.
Shot in New Delhi, Pune and New York, the film begins with Shashi's kids making fun of her pronunciation of jazz as jaazzz. The kids don't even want her to accompany them to school for a PTA (parent-teacher association) meeting because of her poor English.
On one occasion, when Shashi scolds her daughter to concentrate on her studies, she is told: Will you teach me English literature?
Then comes the wedding of her New York-based sister's daughter and it is decided that Shashi should fly to the United States before the whole family to help her sister with wedding plans. But as she is about to fly, her husband (played by Adil Hussain) says: "Tum angrezi bhi theek nahi bole paati! (you cannot speak English properly!").
On the plane, her fellow passenger is Amitabh Bachchan who tries to ease her anxiety by guiding Shashi to order meals, among other things.
But it is in New York that this simple housewife with very little knowledge of the English language is really buffetted the moment she sets her foot on US soil, with immigration officials firing rapid-fire questions at her about the purpose of her visit. Her English-language woes continue, when one day her niece and others take her to show Manhattan landmarks and she walks alone into a restaurant to buy coffee and water. Failing to comprehend the questions at the counter, Shashi runs out crying.
And it is there that she reads an ad on a bus about English classes at the local New York Language Center for newcomers and decides to enroll without telling her sister Sapna and her family.
Before the wedding day arrives, Shashi has managed to pick up enough language skills. But she shares her newly language skills with no one, not even her husband and kids who by then have arrived from India for the wedding.
Shashi's moment to regain her self-esteem comes when at the wedding her husband rises to congratulate the newlywed couple. But Shashi asks her husband to let her speak. And she speaks so well in English that everybody, including her husband, is astounded.
The story ends with Shashi having the last laugh and regaining her self-esteem.
The hilarious "pass-vass, class-vass" track number carries the film through to the end.
From "thunder thigh" Himmatwala days of the 1980s, Sridevi has come a long way in her comeback film.
In her directorial debut, Gauri Shinde, wife of director R. Balki, has done a pretty decent job of it.
The film by Eros International opens next month.
Most Popular Slideshows
- Jaden Smith Clarifies Emancipation Reports with Dad Will Smith on TV Show ‘Ellen’ [PHOTOS AND VIDEO]
- Robsten Romance: New Thorns on the Rosy Love Between Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart [SLIDESHOW]
- IN PHOTOS! Top Moments on American Idol 2013 Final Show [SLIDESHOW]
- SEE PHOTOS! Eva Longoria Wears No Panties at Cannes 2013, Revealed in Embarrassing Wardrobe Malfunction [SLIDESHOW]