It's All About English Vinglish
by Devyani Bisht
I was about nine years old when I first saw Sridevi on our black and white television set that sat on a small table in our living room. She was all glamour and razzle-dazzle to me and occupied the most precious place in my heart in an instant. Her huge eyes and a smile both naughty yet touching left me gaping at the screen long after she was gone. The movie I still remember was Lamhe, and she was swaying to the tunes of a rain number, swinging on a swing and drenched all over. While my friend and I had a plan for a combined study for our exam next day, our temptation to watch her in the movie knew no bounds. It required me ultimately to seek special permission from my Mum which was quite obviously denied to our disappointment! Nevertheless, over the years I saw all her movies and developed a kinship of sorts towards this southern beauty. While people compared her to the other stars, for me she was the epitome of the bollywood movie mania.
From the dusky little girl in Julie to the hip shaking bomb in Tohfa, a chirpy babe in Chaal Baaz to the glamorous and graceful delicacy in Lamhe, this woman surely has come a long way. Watching her in English Vinglish, once more after an eternity on the big screen, Sridevi still makes me drool over her simple charm and naivety. With an exaggerated south Indian accent, she managed to top charts long ago, doing the same yet again with her struggle to conquer the basics of the English language. She makes you smile at her timidness, and she makes you cry at her vulnerability. But the air of confidence that surrounds her and the strides of grace that she takes towards her mission refuse to dwindle one bit. She in the movie, for me, is the woman of today.
It's not always about a language, is it? Feelings and emotions have no language; they go beyond the barriers of all human articulation. Placing unnecessary importance to language can get so restrictive, suffocating and claustrophobic. Is freedom of expression necessary or freeing it in a particular language is? The funny thing is, that while some people in our country can barely talk in English, there are some that thrive on the so-called accent. While tongues roll and make simple words go round on a ride, I can't help but wonder if talking normally won't deliver a message in the same precise meaning? Oh wait a minute, I guess not, since the style statement without an accent might be nothing but incomplete! ***