Nil Battey Sannata
Director: Ashwini Iyer Tiwari
Cast: Swara Bhaskar, Ratna Pathak Shah
Ashwini Iyer Tiwari’s debut feature, Nil Battey is a powerful and honest work, completely shorn of the kind of pretension one sees in a large number of Bollywood movies.
Swara Bhaskar plays the illiterate maid, Chanda who nurses a dream to educate her 15-year-old daughter, Apeksha (Ria Shukla). Chanda is often frustrated at the girl’s attitude who says “A maid’s daughter can only hope to be a maid, like a driver’s son can only become a driver himself”.
On the verge of giving up on a teenager, who bunks school and can never seem to get a grip over mathematics, Chanda finds an epitome of benevolence in her employer, essayed with superb ease and finesse by Ratna Pathak Shah. She understands the angst of a mother, and moots a plan to fulfil Chanda’s dream.
There are some wittily poignant moments in the film -- like the one when Chanda is taken to meet the headmaster of Ria’s school (another riveting performance by Pankaj Tripathi), who is startled when he learns that she wants to study at the school with her daughter.
It is not just a touching story of a mother and her daughter but also a great chapter on the importance of education. It tells us that a parent’s limitations need not stop his/her child too.
Bhaskar affirms this with a rare power and simplicity -- a yawning difference from the parts she played as a modern woman in the Tanu Weds Manu series. As is often believed in Bollywood, an actor must be able to let go his/her own self and sink into a character and she does.
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