Videsh poster

Videsh

wogma rating: Beg or borrow, but do watch (?)

quick review:

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.

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Director: Deepa Mehta
Running time: 100 minutes
Genres: Diaspora
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Videsh - Preview

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- meeta, a part of the audience

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

26 reviewers(?) - 5 yays 10 so-so 11 nays

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

Thumbs up, by N K Deoshi, Apun Ka Choice : ...Kudos to Deepa Mehta for making an exceptional film that’s so intense that it hardly spares you a moment to blink... full review

Thumbs up, by Aly Kassam, Bolly Spice : ...Seeing how a human being often uses fantasy to cope with crisis is a novel concept in terms of its idea as well as treatment.... full review

Thumbs up, by Anupama Chopra, NDTV : ...There are scenes here of marital violence that are so effectively horrific that you almost can’t bear to watch.... full review

Thumbs up, by Dpac, Passion for Cinema : ...Do not expect to be spoon fed but ride along with it... full review

Thumbs up, by Bhargav Saikia, Planet Bollywood : ...Videsh might look like a simple film about domestic abuse on the surface, but it has much more to offer than that.... full review

So-So, by Baradwaj Rangan, Blogical Conclusion, The New Sunday Express : ...Mehta struggles with the kind of folksy conceits that Amol Palekar pulled off so effortlessly in Paheli.... full review

So-So, by Udita Jhunjhunwala, DNA : ...Mehta succeeds in capturing the claustrophobia of a prison-like existence... full review

So-So, by Jaiwantika Dutta - Dhupkar, fullhyd.com : ...A lot of thought has clearly gone into the film, and it shows.... full review

So-So, by Shashi Baliga, Hindustan Times : ...Preity Zinta brings a tremulous, vulnerable grace to her portrayal of a woman living in constant fear.... full review

So-So, by Rajeev Masand, IBN Live : ...A layered drama that touches upon a handful of relevant issues... full review

So-So, by Sumana B Jayanth, MiD DAY : ...The plot. It drags on and on.... full review

So-So, by Nita Jatar Kulkarni, Now Running.com : ...Foreign audiences too could lap it up as the movie gives them a peep into the power equations in a conservative Indian joint family... full review

So-So, by Sukanya Verma, Rediff : ...Wat Mehta truly succeeds at is extracting a landmark performance out of Preity Zinta... full review

So-So, by Sonia Chopra, Sify Movies : ...The performances are spotless. Zinta’s rendering of the abused new bride is heart wrenching.... full review

So-So, by Nikhat Kazmi, Times of India : ...Mehta, the modernist, suddenly seems to have turned quack doctor... full review

Thumbs down, bigoye.com : ...Videsh is agonizingly slow as nothing significant happens almost through the entire film.... full review

Thumbs down, by Suranjana Nandi, Buzz18 : ...Mehta, brings back to life a species once loved by the Hindi cinema audience way back in the 1980s... full review

Thumbs down, by Rachana, Glamsham.com : ...VIDESH doesn't offer you any Heaven in your cinema!... full review

Thumbs down, by Kaveree Bamzai, india today : ...This is a movie that reinforces some of the worst clichés of Indian society.... full review

Thumbs down, by Gaurav Malani, indiatimes : ... The pacing is lethargic and the story takes too long to kick-start.... full review

Thumbs down, Movie Talkies : ...Mehta does a curious mix of mythology and magic realism, which proves to be the film's undoing.... full review

Thumbs down, by Mythily Ramachandran, Now Running.com : ...It fails to tug at your heart strings.... full review

Thumbs down, by Goher Iqbal Punn, Radio Sargam : ...Deepa Mehta has executed the story on screen with much sensitivity and care.... full review

Thumbs down, by Taran Adarsh, Sify Movies : ...Videsh-Heaven on Earth is an unconventional subject, but the moment a reptile slides into the story, it robs the film of realism.... full review

Thumbs down, by Harshita Kohli, StarBoxOffice : ...Deepa Mehta who has given us brilliant award winning films disappoints with Videsh... full review

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Plot Summary

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?

What Worked

  • Elements of a village covered in the first few scenes.
  • That make-up was not used or used to the minimum.
  • The awkwardness of an arranged marriage is captured really well.
  • The switch to black and white, very cleverly done.
  • The entire intertwining of Chand's life with the mythological story she heard when she was a child.

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

  • The dubbing was off and completely distracting. Was the film made in a different language to start with?
  • Why does Rocky accept Chand's request?
  • Why do tenants call and talk in such detailwith Rocky? It is a weird conversation to have.

Nitty-Gritty

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.

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Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: A woman being physically abused by her family.
  • Language: No profanity. Reference to sex in very mild language.
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None
  • Concept: A woman's struggle against injustice that comes her way.
  • General Look and Feel: Very grim and solemn.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

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Videsh - Cast, crew, links

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Running time:
100 minutes
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