The film English Vinglish was a trend-setter when it released in 2012. Not only did it mark the comeback of actor Sridevi, who had ruled in the 90s and was the highest-paid actor of her time, it was also one of those rare films which instantly connected with the audience. The story was about Shashi, a middle-class housewife who makes and sells laddoos as a home-business, but is poked fun at by her family members for not being able to speak English fluently. When she goes to New York for her niece’s wedding, an incident at a cafe leaves Shashi heart-broken and she finally decides to enrol herself in English-speaking tutorial classes.
Upon release, the story, coupled with Sridevi’s heart-wrenching performance was a big hit, with colleges and schools taking students for the film’s screening. In a country where speaking English flawlessly is a must and people who can’t, are ridiculed, this film did wonders. But did you know that Shashi’s character was based on the director Gauri Shinde’s mother Vaishali Shinde?
Here are more such interesting facts you probably didn’t know about this gem of a film:
1) Gauri’s mother Vaishali, a housewife, ran a pickle-business, and wasn’t able to speak English fluently. Gauri wrote the story keeping her in mind, and has said, “This film is inspired by my mom. Like most people in India struggle with this language, it’s just the insensitivity and insecurity that made me do this film.”
2) Do you know how Sridevi came on-board for the film? “While writing the script, I did not think of anyone. When Balki met Boney and Sridevi, they asked him what was he doing at that time. Balki mentioned about me writing a script. Sridevi liked the subject and I narrated the script to her and it just happened,” revealed Gauri in an interview.
3) Shashi’s classmate Laurent, who was besotted with her, was played by French superstar Mehdi Nebbou. And this was his first “innocent film”. “My little girl has not seen me on screen. So far all my films from France have been ...how shall I put it?...adult in content. English Vinglish is the first innocent film I’ve done”, he has said.
4) The film’s interesting promo where Sridevi can be seen trying to read the censor certificate of the film was a first of it’s kind. It was actually Gauri’s husband’s R. Balki’s idea. He is a director himself, who has helmed films such as Paa (2009).
5) Amitabh Bachchan was roped in for a cameo in the film, playing the role of a guy who helps Shashi on the flight to New York. He and Sridevi had last worked together 20 years ago in Khuda Gawah (1992).
6) Actor Priya Anand, who played the role of Sridevi’s niece in the film, was noticed by actor-producer Farhan Akhtar, who cast her in the film Fukrey (2013) as Priya, playing Pulkit Samrat’s girlfriend.
7) The film resonated with audiences across the world. Such was the impact, that it was later dubbed in German as well!
8) The role of Sridevi and Adil Hussain’s on screen kids — Sapna and Sagar — was played by real-life siblings Navika and Shivansh Kotia.
9) The very fact that it was Sridevi’s comeback to films after 15 years made it a highly-anticipated film. It was selected for premieres at various international film festivals, including the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, where the audience gave the film a 10-minute standing ovation once the screening ended.
10) The film was trilingual, and released simultaneously in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi. South superstar Ajith played Amitabh Bachchan’s role in the Tamil version.
11) Adil Hussain, who played Sridevi’s husband in the film, recounts the first meeting he had with her. “During my first meeting with Sridevi, it was a rehearsal in a makeshift set and Gauri had given us the script. She had asked us to imagine a scene. I made up a line and said, “Yeh bill kahan se aaye?” Before I could end the line, Sridevi gave an impromptu reply and I was thrown off by her quick response. She doesn’t know this till date that this was the reason I took at least 5 seconds to respond to her dialogue!”
12) Adil also tells us, “We were shooting in New York in November and had to shoot the wedding scene which was set in Summer. While the men were wearing warm clothes under their kurtas, Sridevi was wearing a sari. When the director said ‘action’, she would deliver her dialogue flawlessly, and when she said “cut’, Sridevi would start shivering and people rushed to her with shawls.”