Monday, June 11, 2018

Our Bollywood Summer: English Vinglish, 3 Idiots

Last year at this time we were working our way through James Bond films. This year we have inadvertently fallen down a Bollywood rabbit hole. Here are the latest of our explorations.

The story of a woman who does not know English and is made to feel insecure by her family and society at large. Circumstances make her determined to overcome this insecurity, master the language, and teach the world a lesson on the way to becoming a self assured and confident woman.
We discovered English Vinglish after reading earlier this year about Sridevi's untimely accidental death. I'd been trying to get my hands on the library's one dvd for some time but it was always checked out. I remain impressed that the Dallas library consistently has these generally unheard of films.

It was a sweet and enjoyable family film. It was a bit uneven and there are the requisite musical numbers which didn't grab me but overall we liked it. One of the unexpected insights, since this was made purely for an Indian audience, is that it shows us just how immigrating to America is viewed by Indians.

We liked it even more when we read that the writer/director's own mother had a pickle business in her home and he was embarrassed of her lack of English. This is his apology to her. Sridevi was wonderful. We didn't realize this film signaled her return after a brief retirement and that she was such a favorite that there are other famous Indian actors featured who wanted to be included because they were such fans.


In the tradition of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” comes this refreshing comedy about a rebellious prankster with a crafty mind and a heart of gold. Rascal. Joker. Dreamer. Genius… You’ve never met a college student quite like “Rancho.” From the moment he arrives at India’s most prestigious university, Rancho’s outlandish schemes turn the campus upside down—along with the lives of his two newfound best friends. Together, they make life miserable for “Virus,” the school’s uptight and heartless dean. But when Rancho catches the eye of the dean’s sexy daughter, Virus sets his sights on flunking out the “3 idiots” once and for all.
I don't remember what path led us to this film except that when we saw Steven Spielberg quoted as loving it we added it to our list.

Enthusiasm waned when we saw the description which sounded like Animal House. A 3 hour long Animal House.

But then we saw it was the highest grossing Indian movie ever when it came out. Courage returned.

Then we saw the movie poster. And we really wondered what we were letting ourselves in for. Coming across Big in Bollywood, a documentary following the American-born Indian cast member, bolstered Tom and Rose's courage. I hadn't seen it but went along for the 3 Idiots ride.

It was something like a cross between Animal House (without the extreme crudeness) and Dead Poet Society. With some song and dance numbers thrown in because it is Bollywood, so of course. And it was surprisingly charming a lot of the time. Uneven but we weren't sorry we watched it. We didn't expect it to tackle very serious themes (that's the Dead Poet Society part) but it was done quite sensitively.

There wasn't a problem getting this from the library since there are nine copies in circulation (nine!), five of which are checked out as I write.

Overall enjoyable as long as you are willing to go along for the ride. And the dance number with the umbrellas is adorable.

We were interested to find that the star Amir Khan is a huge star who has never had a flop and whose films consistently are award winning blockbusters. I hadn't realized he was the star of Lagaan which we enjoyed many years ago. It is on Netflix now and since Rose hasn't seen it we'll probably watch that soon.

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