Nail on the head! English Vinglish and life’s bittersweet truths- Oct 5, 2012

For those of us who grew up admiring the versatility of Sridevi, English Vinglish does not disappoint. Of course, she shows her mettle as a fine actor, her only weakness, the quivering voice with poor dialogue delivery, actually becoming a strength in this story of her search for identity and sense of achievement in a world that runs her down for being unable to speak English, a world that judges her and puts her down while barely appreciating her talents. What is particularly hurtful here is that while the outside world is accepting, her own family is constantly critical, making her an object of ridicule and hurting her self esteem.
The script, however, is the undoubted star in the film. With repeated pungent jabs, the dialogue and situations expose uncomfortable truths of India’s rapidly urbanising society, of changing family values and the undeniable importance of self-esteem, self-preservation and self-love.
Over the last few days, an email conversation has been carrying on among our group of girl friends from college days. And a lot of it has been about how hard it is to find yourself in the flurry of activities and commitments that life becomes. No matter how loving and supporting out husbands, and most us have married men we knew and sort of understood before we took the vows, we women feel cornered into roles that demand selfless devotion to our home and family, while as intelligent and educated individuals, we crave active and satisfying work lives as well. Equality is something even we emancipated women work towards constantly. With all due credit to our spouses!
The movie brilliantly illustrates that it is easy to slot people into roles that we find convenient. We stubbornly cling to preconceived perceptions. And how much it hurts when your family and close friends are judgemental about you, we’ve all experienced that sometime in our lives. I know I live with expectations of financial security and protection from my spouse, while love and respect should be my focus, for instance.
Equality is a dream because we are born to believe that the world thrives on inequality. To be in an equal relationship, it is vital to see everything from the other persons perspective before forming opinions or expectations. And women need to take on that challenge just as much as men do.
Is this possible? Are we not already too conditioned by society to be able to do that when we enter a relationship like marriage? Or can we unshackle ourselves from these burdens somehow and take a simpler view of relationships and life?
English Vinglish sends out simple messages that address complex problems. We need to help each other in times of trouble. Appreciation, sensitivity, positivity, respect, being non judgemental, trying to communicate, expressing love and concern. These are the simple building blocks on which relationships are built. We need to remind ourselves everyday that envy, competitiveness, hurtfulness and revenge have no place in a mature relationship. Not everything can be resolved with a candid conversation. Many a time, clarity in our head as an individual and making positive behavioural changes and above all, helping ourselves rather than waiting to be helped, can take us forward when all else seems lost.

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About ramblinginthecity

I am an architect and urban planner, a writer and an aspiring artist. I love expressing myself and feel strongly that cities should have spaces for everyone--rich, poor, young, old, healthy and sick, happy or depressed--we all need to work towards making our cities liveable and lovable communities.

Posted on October 6, 2012, in Arts and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Very well said Mukta !…. Not a great fan of Sridevi , but you have just inspired me to go and watch the movie šŸ™‚

  2. I find your perspective on marital relationships very interesting (notwithstanding the movie which I have yet to see). Is this mainly an arranged marriage perspective, i wonder?

    • I did not have an arranged marriage but irrespective, women especially in traditional societies that are globalising and urban icing like India, struggle to resolve conflicting images of their self. That society and family judge you makes it more difficult to figure out what you really want. And we all know, despite our bravado, that there is no such thing as having it all!

  3. I completely agree with your views.Many times though I find the biggest tussles are within myself. Of shedding the old world victim’s role that has steeped in despite my liberal upbringing into the vision of the Self I know I can be. And that is a continual struggle!

    • That is true. The first challenge is convincing the self to hold ground, chin up and square shoulders etc. but that does not justify family taking you for granted. Need to teach young kids that respect and benefit of doubt, accepting people for who they are, these are the ground rules!

  4. Thank you for writing this. I really wanted to hear another informed person’s opinion of this movie. I loved it myself and cried by the buckets in many parts.

    Love your reply to Coziamyourmother – Concise & spot on!

  5. I think self love is the key…and there is just too much in the gender roles entrenched societies of ours (or is it everywhere) which challenges a woman’s own perception of self esteem and self worth. While moms at home agonise about their financial dependence, moms at work agonise over not being there to take care of their kids and home. Somehow, despite doing all that we can, we are too often made to feel not good enough, and the anger in some or the frustration in others can go a long way to create a truly unhappy human being who is just trapped in a role of giving. I dont think its got anything to do with ‘love’ marriage versus ‘arranged’…as even with non social weddings we still end up being part of a society with its deep rooted gender values.

    My husband made a very critical comment after watching the film “should I feel good that our story is everyone’s, or bad that our story is everyone’s?” ….I would say ‘bad’….because no matter how much we try to excuse perceptions, the gender bias is wrong and it exists – even for women like us who have always worked shoulder to shoulder with men in the outside world and been as good or better than them.

    As for the film, I thought Sridevi was stupendous and gorgeous. And I think our husbands need to start realising that no matter we are touching forty or are the mother of kids, we can still be quite desirable, so value us ;-)…

    • I agree Mono. We got to break out of those entrenched roles. We got to make sense of our lives so we can do what we want to do. We got to let ourselves and our hang ups go….it’s a tough ride, but it’s so much fun…Miss you!

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