For most, the calling card of the film is Sridevi’s return to acting

On screen, Sridevi’s lips tremble and she sits stricken in the aircraft that will take her on her maiden trip to “Amrica”. Forty-four-year-old Nagakumari smiles in recognition, sitting at the first day first show of director Gauri Shinde’s English Vinglish at thecinema@brookefields. A while ago, she had travelled under similar circumstances to Singapore. Sitting next to her is her sister-in-law Kanthalakshmi, 56. They might soon be making a trip to the Big Apple to visit family and thought it fit to watch the film.

“Also, it has been years since we last watched Sridevi on screen. That’s why this trip to the mall,” says Nagakumari. The film marks the diva’s return to the big screen after a 15-year hiatus.

Elsewhere, Abirami, whose first love is Sridevi, watches the screen with great expectation. She’s at the theatre with her friend, Ganga. “How I wish I can answer the chap at the embassy and immigration thus,” says Ganga, as Amitabh Bachchan sparkles on screen in a delightful cameo. “It feels so good to see Sridevi back on screen. The age just does not show. But, tell me, how many middle-class women can wear Sabyasachi saris?” Point to be noted.

The rest of the first half is greeted with gentle smiles, some whistles as Sridevi shakes a leg and the realisation that the former glamour queen known for her over-the-top acting can also underplay.

Everyone’s heart goes out as she wonders why children are called innocent. “Is this innocence?” she rants, the tears threatening to drop any minute, after her daughter’s outburst over the phone.

Ashmitha and Kadambari, who were mere kids during Sridevi’s last outing at the turnstiles, walk back enthusiastically to their seats after the interval. “She’s so good. We were quite impressed by the trailer. The film’s nice so far,” says Ashmitha.

The film maintains its steady pace and everyone smiles at the attempt by a bunch of foreigners to master English. The French chef mooning over Sridevi’s Shashi Godbole, the sparkling dialogues, the restrained act by Sridevi and finally, the sheer dignity with which she doles out advice on what marriage should be… almost everyone leaves the theatre smiling.

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