© Rapid Eye Movies/Rekord Film

Englisch für Anfänger (English Vinglish)
India 2012

Opening 27 Jun 2013

Directed by: Gauri Shinde
Writing credits: Gauri Shinde
Principal actors: Sridevi Yanger, Adil Hussain, Mehdi Nebbou, Priya Anand, Sulabha Deshpande

Gauri Shinde wrote and directed this touching film about an Indian housewife. Shashi (Sridevi) runs her own successful small business from home, baking laddoos, an Indian sweet. Although she is a devoted wife and mother, her husband Satish (Adil Hussain) makes little jokes about the baking and her daughter is embarrassed by the fact that her mother only speaks Hindi and no English. When Shashi's older sister in New York needs help planning her daughter Radha's (Priya Anand) wedding, Shashi is persuaded to travel there on her own to be joined a month later by her family.

New York is daunting. After a humiliating experience at a coffee shop due her lack of English, Shashi enrolls secretly in an English class, which promises to have her speaking fluently in four weeks. Her classmates hail from various countries and are lively and fun-loving. Shashi is the one serious student in the class. Laurent (Mehdi Nebbou), a French chef, finds he has feelings for her even though she is very standoffish and mysterious. By accident, her niece Radna discovers that her aunt is trying hard to learn English, and she helps by watching DVDs with her in the evening and giving her books to read. In order to get a diploma from the language school, each student must make a speech at the end of the course and be graded by their teacher. Unfortunately, the exam coincides with the wedding, and Shashi comes to terms with the fact that she will not be eligible for the diploma. Radha, however, without telling Shashi, invites the whole class to the wedding.

When the time for speeches comes during the festivities, it is suggested that Shashi speak. Satish starts to excuse her as is his habit (since he doesn't know that she speaks English), but she calmly stands up and begins to speak to the bride and groom in hesitant but wonderful English about family values and how one family member should never make fun of the other’s weaknesses. It is a very poignant speech which not only gets much applause from the wedding guests but also a declaration from the English instructor that this speech counts as Shashi’s final exam and that she has passed with flying colors. (Thelma Freedman)

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