‘Angrezi Mein Kehte Hain’ review: Lost in an exotic Varanasi

A scene from 'Angrezi Mein Kehte Hain'   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Harish Vyas’ Angrezi Mein Kehta Hain (AMKH) begins with exotic shots of Varanasi, which seem to have emerged out of a clichéd Western documentary on the Ganges. One would assume this set-up to be a bait for festivals but the filmmaker doesn’t venture beyond these pseudo-artistic images – which reappear throughout the film – to pander to a festival crowd. AMKH instead employs the hackneyed grammar of mainstream Hindi cinema to narrate a self-proclaimed “unconventional love story”, throwing the film in an identity limbo, where the only unconventional element is its casting.

Angrezi Mein Kehte Hain
  • Director: Harish Vyas
  • Cast: Sanjay Mishra, Pankaj Tripathi, Shivani Raghuvanshi, Anshuman Jha, Pankaj Thipathi
  • Story line: A middle-aged wife finds it increasingly difficult to live in a loveless marriage

Sanjay Mishra is a surly post-office employee who, in a voice-over at the start of the film, introduces his wife of 24 years, Kiran (Ekavali Khanna), as “middle class household ki upper middle class wife”. It’s enough to establish him as a patriarchal and insecure man, and as time proceeds – a person incapable of showing affection. Kiran is younger, pretty and better educated but a doormat. Or so we are told, until she walks out of the marriage, forcing Mishra to woo her for the first time in over two decades. Their daughter, Preeti (Shivani Raghuvanshi), on the sidelines marries her secret neighbourhood lover against the wishes of her father. The premise could have yielded interesting insights on traditional arranged marriage versus ‘love marriage’ in modern-day Indian hinterland, aided by humour, but what we end up with is a shallow narrative which oscillates between melodrama, clichés and boredom. The film drags along without substance making the characters appear one-dimensional and facile.

The subject could have been relatable to a wide Indian audience who are bound in an arranged marriage, but Mishra is neither convincingly awkward as a repentant husband nor staunchly belligerent as a patriarchal one. It makes you wonder if the film’s main protagonist was wrongly cast. The women in the film, Khanna and Raghuvanshi, try hard to breathe life into their roles but are impeded with weak characterisation. Pankaj Tripathi makes a short yet effective appearance as a man dedicated to his ailing wife, making you wish he had stayed around longer.

What emerges as the most interesting aspect in this NFDC-produced film is an Asian lady teaching what appears to be Mandarin or Japanese to school kids in Varanasi. It’s the only memory I left the cinema hall with, curiously

Googled the phenomenon and unearthed nothing too interesting. I guess the disappointment lingers on even after the film is done.

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Printable version | Jul 29, 2021 1:20:34 PM |

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