There are very few stories that can touch your heart. There are even fewer stories that you can relate to, while it touches your heart. Only some stories tell you what life is, beyond the ‘lights, camera and action’. Some stories show us a mirror, against the society, our lifestyle, us. Nil Battey Sannata is one such story. Mind it, this is not just a movie. It is a story. A story that will touch your heart.
Title: Nil Battey Sannata
Directed by: Ashwini Iyer Tiwari
Produced by: Anand L. Rai and Ajay Rai
Starring: Swara Bhaskar, Ria Shukla, Ratna Pathak Shah and Pankaj Tripathi
Production Company: Color Yellow and JAR Pictures
Release date: 22nd April, 2016
Debutante director Ashwini Iyer Tiwari knows her job pretty well. She knows how to write a story, choose her characters and direct and present before the audience a beautiful tale. You may, at first glance, think that this movie is about education, about ‘jab jaago tabhi savera’. Then you may think that it is about the dynamics of a mother-daughter relationship. And you are finally made to believe that this is a story about dreams, about aspirations and about hope. When you come out of the theater, you know it’s about all these things, and above all, it’s a story about you.
This story is about Chanda (Swara Bhaskar) and Apeksha aka Apu (Ria Shukla). It is about the love they share, about the fights they have. Chanda works at various places to save enough money for Apu’s studies, but her main work is as a house maid at a house. Her boss, whom she refers to as Didi (Ratna Pathak Shah) is not only Chanda’s boss but also her emotional and mental support. But in spite of all these efforts made by Chanda to earn and save money, Apu shows no interest in studying further, specially Maths and says that she too, like her mother will become a maid when she grows up, which is not what Chanda wants. She tells all her problems to Didi, and then Didi enrolls her in Apu’s school, where she becomes everyone’s favorite in no time. But this hurts Apu. Chanda later promises to leave school if Apu scores higher than her. Go see the movie for more…
The story, as to say, does not have much to it, but the direction, dialogues and performances steal your heart. Though the movie has a run time of 96 minutes, you feel it is a little stretched. But Swara Bhaskar, Ria Shukla, Ratna Pathak Shah and Pankaj Tripathi don’t, for a second, bore you. The dialogues are words you listen to almost daily. They are simple, yet deep and meaningful conversations. The narrative and cinematography, individually and together, are beautiful. The lassi in kulhads, narrow lanes, rickshaws and the Taj Mahal, all are a treat to look at. Nothing in the movie is extraordinary – everything is just how it should be, there is no extra make-up, no sophistication of Agra or of anything else – every thing is just perfect. It is only the acts by the actors that are exemplary.
Swara Bhaskar as Chanda is beyond description. Her smile, her anger, her angst, her happiness, all are on point. She is just like any other mother, possessive, concerned, and is, like everything else, nothing extraordinary. But Bhaskar gives this woman so much substance. Her UP tone, local slangs, fearless eyes, concerned heart, all give Chanda a whole new dimension. You would want to stand up and clap for this woman by the end of the story, no matter how cliche it sounds. The last monologue by Bhaskar, about dreams and how to achieve them is breathtakingly beautiful. Ashwini Iyer Tiwari had probably given Bhaskar a normal, common house maid, but her acting skills carve out an extra down-to-earth maid, who knows where she belongs and doesn’t want the same for her child. Through this role, Swara Bhaskar proves that you do not need to play a princess or become a warrior to show your talent. She breaks all stereotypes that are present in the industry. She proves that characters with only three sets of clothes are much more prettier, deeper than those decked with lehengas and expensive jewelry.
Ria Shukla as the child, Apu can be called a star in the making. She blends into the character of Apu with so much ease and perfection that it is difficult to digest. She is a perfect ‘bai ki beti’ who has absolutely no dreams. She loves playing and dancing in the evening, and her love for Ranbir Kapoor is out of this world. She too, like Chanda, is a very very common character. So common, that you might have already met an Apu. The fear that Apu has of Maths, the devotion to beat her mother in school and the love she has for her when she finally becomes something are all seen in Ria’s eyes. And that, is gorgeous.
Supporting characters, Ratna Pathak Shah and Pankaj Tripathi as Chanda’s boss and the school Principal are outstanding. Both there characters are perfectly carved and even more perfectly played. Ratna Pathak Shah’s seriousness and Pankaj Tripathi’s humor are both so real that you relate the most to these two characters.
Another character to look out for is Pintu, Apu’s friend. His hair, his eyes, his tone, all are just plain hilarious. The nerdy guy, the girl best friend, and the other dumb students are an ordinary vision, just perfectly ordinary.
What shines out in this story is the dynamic relationship between two sets of mother and daughter. First is the set of Chanda and Apu and second, that of Didi and Chanda. Though Didi and Chanda are not related at all, and Ashiwini Iyer Tiwari doesn’t say that they share such a relationship. But there are subtle moments that create a deep emotional bond between the two. The scene in which Didi has to go away for three months and Chanda starts to cry is heartwarming, and so are the subtle moments of eating maggi, watching movies or even sleeping next to each other, between Chanda and Apu.
All in all, see this story for Swara Bhaskar and to understand that with proper education and determination we can become what we want to become. See this one to understand how important a mother is; the sacrifices she does for you; and that you are her only dream. DREAM BIG!
My Rating: 4/5
Disclaimer: All the above images have been taken from Google. None of them have been created/clicked by me.