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Film / English Vinglish

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English Vinglish is a 2012 Bollywood film starring Sridevi, Mehdi Nebbou, Adil Hussain, and Priya Anand. The film is written and directed by Gauri Shinde. It was Sridevi's first film after a 15-year hiatus from acting.

The story is about an Indian housewife Shashi, who has a small home-run catering business for Indian sweets and snacks, but is condescended to by her husband Satish and daughter Sapna. For a logical sequence of events she needs to spend 5 weeks in New York with her sister's family, helping with a niece's upcoming wedding. While there, she learns English in secret and gains everyone's respect.


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Tropes appearing in English Vinglish include:

  • Bilingual Dialogue: A scene has an emotional Shashi speaking in Hindi and a supportive Laurent speaking in French, neither understanding the words but getting the intent. Lampshaded in-universe as being better than monolingual dialogue.
  • The Cameo: Amitabh Bachchan cameos as the passenger next to Shashi on the plane. The Tamil version has Ajith Kumar instead.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Shashi's son Sagar habitually scares her by leaping out of hiding and yelling. She drops a plate of food at an awkward moment because of this.
  • Culture Clash: Averted. No drama over differences between culture.
  • Eloquent in My Native Tongue: All the language students, really, but this is Rama's specific reason for taking the language course.
  • Everything Sounds Sexier in French: The film plays this up a bit, and it's quite possible Laurent is doing so too.
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  • Gratuitous French: Laurent speaks in French with Shashi.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: Half the film is in English and the other half is in Hindi, with some Gratuitous French thrown in.
  • Language Barrier: Shashi's low command of English makes her feel insecure and sets the plot in motion.
  • Montage Out: The end titles play over the title, showing all the important characters from the movie for a second or two each.
  • Multinational Team: The English class has two Indians, a Pakistani guy, a Chinese lady, a Mexican lady, a Frenchman, a generic African guy , and an American teacher. Completely averts Bulungi, Wutai and Qurac however. All characters are shown more in trying to assimilate to the US than in their backgrounds.
  • Sneaky Departure: Shashi has to slip away from her sister's house to take English lessons without her sister's knowledge, and succeeds every time.
  • Straight Gay: Due to the lack of interaction with his classmates in the beginning, it is hard to notice Udumbke is one. It wasn't until he confessed about his sexuality does he manage to blend in with the class.
  • The "The" Title Confusion: Shashi is confused about why people say "the United States" but not "the India".
  • Title Drop: Shashi says "Enough of this English Vinglish" at one point.
  • Token Minority: Udumbke, the least-developed character among the students in the English class, is a generic black dude from an unspecified country.
  • Training Montage: More of an English-learning montage really. Shashi's rapid progress with her English class is summarized in a high-speed montage played over the title song.
  • Translation by Volume: Played straight and lampshaded. Shashi calls up the English class, and the lady there recites the different classes they have at high speed. Shashi asks her to speak slowly. The lady repeats what she said, more slowly and more loudly. Shashi understands it this time.
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