English Vinglish - Notepad

wogma rating: Add to 'must watch' list (?)
quick review:

A simple Indian woman's complexes are explored with warmth and charm. Sridevi brings to us a home-maker's self-doubt with a wonderful performance despite the squeak in her voice and distracting accent.



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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Warning: this section has some details that could distort your experience while watching the movie. I strongly recommend reading this only after you have seen the movie or if you have decided not to see it.

Plot Summary

Mrs. Shashi Godbole (Sridevi), mother of two, maker and seller of snack items, finds herself ridiculed and thus inferior. She lands up in New York and now HAS to learn English.

What Worked

  • Amitabh Bachchan's cameo. Sweet. Despite the over-acting, I had a good laugh! Ang good to see a co-star from yesteryears lending support while easily slipping into the shoes of a co-passenger.
  • The Michael Jackson dance.
  • That Shashi is not a nag and is pretty cool and accepting from the beginning.
  • The French man and his dreamy eyes!
  • That Shashi doesn't need only intermittent love.
  • That Shashi doesn't even consider what she'd like for herself, she doesn't give herself a choice at many times even though there might be one.
  • That Shashi lies even though she doesn't need to, just because the default for her has been that people will laugh at her.
  • The emphasis for need of equality in a marriage – not only conceptually but in reality.

What did not

Note: This section simply lists the things that I did not like in this movie. This is not the overall impression about this movie. Please read the full review here

  • What Amitabh Bachchan's character arrogantly tells the American immigration officer. I doubt anyone would get by with that one while entering a country. But hey, it did get those few laughs from the audience. This is what I meant by jingoism.
  • The Manhattan translation is silly!
  • The way New York is covered – pretty ordinary.
  • The focus on the brand name when the brand name occurs in the Manhattan song – quite unimaginative.
  • The use of handheld camera got a bit annoying.
  • The highlight on Shashi's "good question". It was a good question alright, but the highlight looked like the writer was patting her own back for coming up with it.
  • Shashi's nieces who have grown up in the US don't have an accent while speaking Hindi.
  • Shashi's attitude towards her daughter. Though focusing on that would have to be a different film altogether.
  • The dramatization of the laddu scene in the end.


This section lists things that I think are not important to the overall impact of the movie. In most cases, it could be explained away by something like, "we noticed the glitch after the scene was shot and there were schedule/budget issues and thus we could not re-shoot it". I like giving the makers the benefit of doubt, but I am amused nevertheless. Hopefully, they will tickle you too.

  • Shashi sleeps in a sari, really? Maybe...but difficult to digest given her socia-economic strata that she wouldn't own a night gown! This is an example of what I mean by exaggeration of the situation in this film.
  • It looked like Shashi traveled to New York in business class and the family flew back in economy. That's an awfully nice husband. I judge the business class based on the glass glass, the wine, etc.
  • Sridevi's saris are simple and so gorgeous. For once, I didn't mind that a regular at-most upper middle class character carried enough saris to not repeat a single one in her 5-week stay in New York.