Monday, October 15, 2018

Helicopter Eela 

Mommie Dearest

The film industry's ageism (applicable only to women) is such that a talented actress like Kajol, who chooses to play the mother of a teenager, is then herself made to behave like a teenager on uppers.

In Pradeep Sarkar's film, Eela's (Kajol) career as a singer fails to take off, so she marries Arun (Tota Roy Chowdhury), has a child and becomes a willing homemaker. Then, the husband does a runner for the flimsiest of reasons, so she concentrates all her energies on her son.

As it happens in films, women without husbands suddenly have no friends, relatives (Eela does have a friendly mother-in-law living elsewhere) or financial needs. She becomes the kind of mother who forces tiffins on to her kid, and turns up at his school trip. 

This 'helicoptering' becomes a problem when Vivan (Riddhi Sen) goes to college, and Eela decides to enroll too. This bit is borrowed from the West, in India, there is such a crush of young students with high percentages that no college would admit a parent.  (In the far superior Nil Batey Sannata, the mother goes to school under different circumstances and in a municipal school, characters speaking in Hindi was believable, not in a posh college.)

Eela proceeds to make a complete nuisance of herself, butting in everywhere and interfering not just in his life, but that of his friends too. The eccentric, slipper- throwing drama teacher (Neha Dhupia) casts her in a play, which turns out to be a music show in the ubiquitous inter-college competition.

There was perhaps the seed of a real comedy here-- many Indian mothers do tend to be overbearing-- but Sarkar makes a hash of it. The first half is wasted in establishing Eela's dashed hopes, which is stuffed with guest appearances by film personalities; by the time the entirely predictable climax comes around, the viewer is bored or irritated or both. And wondering why Kajol is over made-up and badly styled, and why the interior of the apartment building looks like the set of a low-budget TV show, and what will happen to the career of National Award-winning Riddhi Sen after such a clunker.

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