Helicopter Eela

wogma rating: Even the keen, wait for it to come on TV/online (?)

quick review:

A different but thin story-line that stretches too long, most of which you know from the trailer, including the 2-3 funny lines. ‘Different’ gets some points though.

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Director: Pradeep Sarkar
Running time: 130 minutes
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Helicopter Eela - Preview

Helicopter Eela’s trailer claims to ‘reinvent parenting’. Tall order, that. But, from the glimpses in the trailer looks like a lot of fun. Two things hold me back from looking forward to it with 100% enthusiasm though. Kajol’s shrill voice and the feeling that this could be like another Hichki or Tumhaari Sulu. The films didn’t hold up to the promise of the trailers.

With that at the back of my mind, I really hope that Ridhi Sen’s fresh and seemingly natural act, the crazy concept, and the quips will be enough to drown down any of the negatives. And hey, we have the promise of a cute grandma. That always counts.

Helicopter Eela releases on 12 October, 2018.

- meeta, a part of the audience

The over-imposing, annoying nature of parents; mothers giving up their careers for children; therefore mothers who make their universe about their children; children who want space, privacy and to find themselves; children turning an age where they can teach their parents a lesson or two – including ‘finding yourself’; parents being rejected by their kids; parents having to let go – each of these themes is a powerful one and very well holds a story or two for itself. Helicopter Eela attempts to address all of them, but does justice only to the first theme. Of course, it gets repetitive and by definition is annoying.

To be fair there are enthusiastic moms like her character in the real world and Kajol does do the, “mamma is always right” look to perfection.

Within that too, the details don’t come together well. From weird scenes where a new student goes to meet the college principal on her first day of college for no apparent reason; to phones that work while the rain is pouring down on them; to a singer being so loud that a stadium full of people can hear them without a mic; to characters where not a single college student empathizes with the helicopter mom’s son – the writing seems jerky and superficial. At the same time, there are scenes that go on and on well after the point is made and sometimes the point doesn’t seem that important either – not even in terms of adding flourish to the story or its characters.

There might have been a slight chance of the over-stretched story-line working were it not all revealed in the trailer. There is actually nothing at all left for us to discover in the film, including the couple of witty quips. Cameos by a few Hindi film celebrities are hardly a draw in an otherwise predictable flair.

What remains then is the comeback of Kajol. This one totally depends on whether you are nostalgic and missed her charm or if you always found her squeaky and over-the-top. She continues to perform the way she did, so your opinion is unlikely to change. In interest of fair disclosure, I fall in the second category and found her act too bubbly. To be fair there are enthusiastic moms like her character in the real world and Kajol does do the, “mamma is always right” look to perfection. Riddhi Sen does well, but can balance Kajol’s exuberant act only so much.

Other than that, for a movie that is also about a singer, the music isn’t the greatest. So, you don’t have that either. Helicopter Eela ends up becoming a long-drawn, predictable, repetitive saga. The only reason for it to be seen once in passing on TV is because the theme is different. While it feels the film has so much to say, the manner in which it all comes about, I wondered if it would have worked better as a short film or maybe even a few.

- meeta, a part of the audience

27 reviewers(?) - 5 yays 8 so-so 14 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Shaheen Irani, Deccan Chronicle : ...Helicopter Eela is a cute one-time watch with your family, so once you have seen Tumbbad and have nothing else to do, go ahead with Helicopter Eela, especially if you are a Kajol fan, since she doesn't disappoint in her acting.... full review

Thumbs up, by Meena Iyer, DNA : ...Helicopter Eela is your regular, everyday slice-of-life family tale told with humour. Check it out!... full review

Thumbs up, by Devesh Sharma, Filmfare : ...Watch the film for some fierce acting by Kajol, who given her enormous talent should be getting more author-backed roles. Take your parents along as well - both parties might learn a thing or two...... full review

Thumbs up, by Manjusha Radhakrishnan, Gulf News : ...The film also has a few progressive twists in the manner in which Eela handles her personal relationships.... full review

Thumbs up, by Ronak Kotecha, Times of India : ...Overall, Helicopter Eela is a fun ride that manages to land safely despite some turbulence. Watch this simple and endearing tale of motherly love with your mom in tow.... full review

So-So, by Tushar P. Joshi, Bollywood Life : ...Helicopter Eela had an interesting premise, but the execution and weak script prevent it from going beyond the obvious cliches. Watch it only if you are a Kajol fanatic.... full review

So-So, by Anna MM Vertticad, FirstPost : ...Helicopter Eela means well, but it ends up as an often fun but almost entirely superficial Mom com, a sort of English Vinglish without depth.... full review

So-So, by Kunal Guha, Mumbai Mirror : ...With a filmography that includes titles such as Parineeta and Mardaani, it’s barely believable that director Pradeep Sarkar has helmed this project based on Anand Gandhi’s Gujarati play Beta Kaagdo.... full review

So-So, by Rajeev Masand, News18.com : ...A chunk of the film’s second half is focused on the comedy that arises out of mother and son attending class together, and while some jokes land the truth is that none of it feels particularly fresh. That’s true of the film too. You’ve seen all this before…and done better too.... full review

So-So, by Shrishti Nagi, News18.com : ...Overall, Helicopter Eela doesn’t lack entertainment, thanks to Riddhi Sen’s superb performance, but it could have been a better film with a tighter first half.... full review

So-So, by Manisha Lakhe, Now Running.com : ...When a mother lives for her son, obsesses over him, she forgets that he's grown up and needs his space. Kajol - never before so beautiful - plays a helicopter single mom to Vivan and is so involved with his life that she even joins the same college as he, and makes his life miserable. What could have been a humongous parenting film, is just so frivolously written, that even moments of greatness are reduced to froth... full review

So-So, by Savera R Someshwar, Rediff : ...In the effort to dose Helicopter Eela with humour -- and it's not that a movie on this subject cannot be funny -- the film cuts down on its believability.... full review

So-So, by Troy Ribeiro, Sify Movies : ...At the end, one wonders, why is the word "Helicopter" in the title, except that the film offers you a choppy emotional ride that touches you occasionally but overall, leaves you dissatisfied.... full review

Thumbs down, by Baradwaj Rangan, Blogical Conclusion, The New Sunday Express : ...The song-and-dance climax plumbs hitherto uncharted depths of godawfulness as it hoists Eela on a stage and makes the college — and by extension, the world — see how fabulous she is. In comparison, a Cine Blitz blind item, circa 1995, comes off like Hamlet.... full review

Thumbs down, Bollywood Hungama : ...On the whole, HELICOPTER EELA is a poorly made film and has too many loose ends and silly moments. At the box office, this helicopter is bound to crash!... full review

Thumbs down, by Anupama Chopra, Film Companion : ...In once scene, Eela tells a college-mate, who is obviously half her age, to call her ‘Eela’ instead of ‘Eela aunty’. She says, “I’m very modern.” But this film doesn’t feel modern. It feels dated and shallow.... full review

Thumbs down, by Rahul Desai, Film Companion : ...Either way, Helicopter Eela is one of the most clueless, boring and unintentionally Oedipal films of our times. If there is a sequel, it might be about the murderous equation between clingy Eela and her feisty daughter-in-law. Or about how Vivaan’s girlfriends leave (or…disappear) because of his mother. Actually, forget I said that. Forget everything. Life is too short. Or at least that’s what a wise man once said, before ditching his wife.... full review

Thumbs down, by Johnson Thomas, Free Press Journal : ...The scenario had great comic potential but under Sarkar’s sloppy helming, we only get a steady stream of over-the-top hyper-parenting that is neither interesting nor entertaining.... full review

Thumbs down, by Sonali Dabade, fullhyd.com : ...All in all, if you're going to watch this movie, walk in with as few expectations as possible and be prepared for some OTT acting. There was a much better movie possible here, but it's too late to think about that now.... full review

Thumbs down, by Raja Sen, Hindustan Times : ...The idea of Kajol being too boisterous for a library is easy to accept, and the actor takes the role seriously enough to make Eela believable. The film doesn’t work as hard, with college students using volumes of the World Book for research, and a young man with a thickly Bengali accent playing Eela’s half-Maharashtrian, half-Punjabi son. In a throwback to Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’s infamously unplugged electric guitars, Kajol even conquers a stadium with a song without needing a microphone. This Mommy may not know best, but she sure knows loudest.... full review

Thumbs down, by Lakshana N Palat, india today : ...Helicopter Eela might have had a clear purpose. But that gets glossed over by a stretched storyline and at times, over-hammy acting. The excessive drama shoots down any comic potential.... full review

Thumbs down, by Shubhra Gupta, indian express : ...The difference here is that the initial bits of the film hark back to the 90s, because Eela’s desire to become a singer needed the background of an era when Indi-pop was at the top, and when director Sarkar was delighting us with sparkling music videos. But the need to show Kajol in a perky younger avatar, hanging out in studios with famous film directors and musician husband (Roy Chowdhury, completely at sea), makes the film meander.... full review

Thumbs down, by Umesh Punwani, koimoi : ...All said and done, Helicopter Eela is one boring film with good performances by Kajol and Riddhi Sen. Too much of forced melodrama and annoying character graph of Kajol eats up the fun from the film. It’s a golden opportunity lost!... full review

Thumbs down, by Sonil Dedhia, MiD DAY : ...Much of the writing is predictable and the dialogue gets downright hackneyed in places.... full review

Thumbs down, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...To sum up, Helicopter Eela is an ungainly crash landing at the end of a wobbly ride.... full review

Thumbs down, by Nandini Ramnath, Scroll.in : ...The sense of alienation is deepened by the plasticky nature of the production, which feels like a commercial or a television show, and Eela’s visible make-up and elegant wardrobe. Kajol over-does the chirpiness and flakiness, and doesn’t have Riddhi Sen’s comfort level in the comic scenes. She settles down when the movie finally does. The extended climax is pure schmaltz, but is rousing enough to ensure that Helicopter Eela doesn’t crash-land all the way but escapes with significant damage.... full review

Thumbs down, by Kennith Rosario, The Hindu : ...Mother-son coming-of-age stories are rare and have a universal appeal. If only the film invested more in the complexities involved instead of being a convenient tale that builds up to a garish finale.... full review

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

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: A few slaps
  • Language: A few abusive words muted
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None. Ok fine, mention of a kiss.
  • Concept: A son teaches an annoying helicopter mom how to find herself
  • General Look and Feel: Bright and peppy

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

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Helicopter Eela - Cast, crew, links

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Running time:
130 minutes
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