Just like more than half the country, I woke up on Sunday morning to the heart-breaking news of Sridevi's sudden death. It was beyond comprehension, unbelievable that this beautiful and powerful actress was no longer with us. As I dug around the internet for more information, I kept coming across various posts, statuses, small tributes by friends, families and strangers. As I read article after article talking about a cardiac arrest, attending a wedding in Dubai, her remains to be flown in, I came across a post where a friend had posted a screenshot of the song he was listening to.
Gustakh Dil by Shilpa Rao.
And inadvertently, my mind went back to the movie that I had loved so much for so many reasons all those years ago - English Vinglish - the songs of which I had hummed and sung for weeks before and months after watching the film, the movie which I raved about so much to everyone who would listen.
And it wasn't hard to fathom why more than half the country was posting condolences on social media and somehow, out of the great body of her work, English Vinglish found a mention in many people's tweets and posts.
Shocked to hear of passing of movie star Sridevi. She has left millions of fans heartbroken. Her performances in films such as Moondram Pirai, Lamhe and English Vinglish remain an inspiration for other actors. My condolences to her family and close associates #PresidentKovindComments — President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) February 25, 2018
Amidst the many movies that came out in 2012 and changed the face of Bollywood, English Vinglish had a sweet, subtle taste to it; one that stayed with you for a very long time after you stepped out of the theatre. It was not just the feel-good of the movie, but also the homely feeling that came with the fact that this story was all of ours. We could relate. Many of us were getting into constant wars of words with our parents over their inability to understand us, our ideologies. Many of us felt caged in the language barrier that we suddenly found ourselves dealing with vis-a-vis our parents. In our urban-middle class homes, where we were too busy to sometimes even talk to our mothers - talking to them and hoping they understand our tales but never bothering to hearing theirs was a very familiar story.
In this comeback film, Sridevi excelled in the role as only she could. We felt a sense of pathos, then the feeling of sadness, unease when we caught of a glimpse of our mothers in her. And then we rose to glory with her, beaming with pride, hearts bursting with joy and eyes brimming with unshed tears when she finally gave that wedding speech. In English. She not only managed to bring to light our mothers' journeys, but also made her journey ours. The feeling of being lost in a crowd and being misunderstood is only too familiar. And with that kind of acting prowess, she carried the movie on her shoulders as she did all those years and we were reminded once again why the screen is where she always belonged.
Not just that. The second half of the movie brought to light a mother, an Indian woman in a foreign land, and a wife who challenged and shattered a lot of parochial ideas as she went forward on her journey to learn a language that wasn't hers.
English Vinglish is not, will not be, dated. Because the struggle, the peek into the life of a middle class Indian homemaker, is what you see even today if you pay close attention.
It is sad to think that just when she returned so triumphantly to the screen and was making her way into our hearts all over again, her own heart gave in. And now, minus the cameo in Shah Rukh Khan's upcoming movie Zero, we will never see the likes of Chandni, Seema and Shashi on the silver screen again.
So maybe I will go back home, put English Vinglish on and watch it with my mother this time, and marvel as Sridevi once again brings a twinkle to our eyes.