wogma rating: Beg or borrow, but do watch (?)
Preity's brilliant act & Deepa's execution play with gray cells. An out-of-the-box approach to domestic violence and superstition in the form of symbolism is thrown in too.Read more
Domestic violence and women’s empowerment would be the superficial issues that Videsh touches upon. Though these are by no means trivial, there are several deeper matters the film also tries to talk about. There's reference to the fact that strength of human willpower is generally under-rated. But one's strength doesn't necessarily have to be just willpower or intelligence or courage; it can be a subtler and a more abstract human capability.
True - physical, verbal and thus mental abuse by different members of the family do make the marriage shown here incomparable to an average marriage. But the incompatibility between expectations and realities of a marriage are true of any marriage. Preity Zinta gives the character, Chand, her vulnerability and her strength, her fear and her defiance. I can watch Videsh a few more times just to appreciate the nuances of her deglamorized performance. Vansh Bhardwaj plays her husband Rocky and does an equally laudable show.
Given these acts and how well-thought the film is, it's difficult to imagine that the wooden expressions worn by the rest of the cast are unintentional. The glaring non-performances must have a reason I haven't been able to figure out. If nothing else, the indifferent faces effectively add to Chand's loneliness.
This feeling of being alone while in company is magnified by the use of silence and of poetic prose in Chand's dialogues. Her disintegration due to her circumstances are a product of Rocky's aversion to talking - which means a wise non-usage of words to build his character. His silence frustrates us as an audience and sort-of makes us feel his frustration though we are not aware of the specifics.
Then you have references to the Almighty and His influence on our lives is something that irks me often because of the kitschy way it is done in Hindi films. And in general, unless the plot's underlying assumption is the supernatural phenomenon, it works against the film. But, here in its quirky way, Videsh uses these things to represent the moral support and the liberation Chand feels. It also added to the heavy cynicism apparent in the title of the film Videsh - Heaven on Earth. A foreign land where Indians will do anything to go, but will end up creating anything but heaven there. And yet I feel something other than magical intervention would have worked much better as a symbol.
The eerie close-ups, the slightly annoying handheld camera work, the unsettling silence due to the lack of background music, all add to the claustrophobic atmosphere Chand must experience in the "free" Western world.
None of the outwardly issues touched upon have anything new about them - an abusive family, sarcasm at Indians' attempt to create India outside India, human crassness, strength of women, etc. But the philosophical bent given to the movie makes it far more superior to any other movie in this genre.
- meeta, a part of the audience
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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.
Chand (Priety Zinta) is sent off to Canada to be wed to a guy from an Indian family settled there. The family is not known to her or her family. Will she find love there?