Thursday, April 28, 2016

Movie Review: Nil Battey Sannata

Nil Battey Sannata: An Inspiring Story of a 'Go-Getter'! 
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The Story Frame:

Nil Battey Sannata by the debutant Director Ashwani Iyer Tiwari has become the talk of the tinsel town because of its refreshing and heartwarming story. It portrays the life and aspirations of a working class woman's bonding with her daughter. It deals with the perceptional and social blocks that one have in the pursuit of one's aspirations and dreams. The characters of Chanda and Apeksha are played by the very talented Swara Bhaskar and Ria Shukla, respectively. The film is supported and produced by Aanand L. Rai, Ajay Rai, and Alan McAlex.

Cast: Swara Bhaskar (Chanda Sahay), Ria Shukla (Apeksha Sahay), Ratna Pathak (Mrs. Dewan), Pankaj Tripathi (Principal Srivastava), Sanjay Suri (District Collector), Neha Prajapati (Sweety), Prashant Tiwari (Pintu), Vishal Nath (Amar)

Genre: Family Drama

Direction: Ashwani Iyer Tiwari

Screenplay: Ashwini Iyer, Nitesh Tiwari, Neeraj Singh, and Pranjal Choudhary

Produced by: Anand L. Rai, Ajay Rai, and Alan McAlex

Production Company: JAR Pictures, Colour Yellow

Cinematographer: Gavemic U. Ary

Music: Rohan, Vinayak

Lyrics: Manoj Yadav, Nitesh Tiwari, and Shreyas Jain

Film Editing by: Namrata Rao

Distributor: Eros International

Theatre Release: 22nd April, 2016

Language: Hindi

Duration: 104 minutes 
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Reviewer's Thumb Mark

Nil Battey Sannata is the triumph of a lady who dared to dream for a better life for her reluctant daughter who conveniently used the card of her being poor and marginalized to shy away from the responsibility to change her life situations by dreaming big. Chanda Sahay is a single mother who dons many hats simultaneously as a maid at Mrs. Dewan's (Ratna Pathak Shah) house, worker at a small factory, and a washer woman at a dhobhi ghat.  She is also ready to take up odd jobs to save money for her daughter to pursue her studies further to become an engineer or a doctor. But the irony is Chanda's daughter Apeksha Sahay aka Apu (Ria Shukla has no aspiration other than being a 'Bai' (Maid) like her mother. To counter her mother's expectations she also has her logics ready - a doctor's child becomes a doctor, an engineer's child becomes an engineer and therefore, a Bai's daughter is bound to become a Bai. So, why worry so much? To make her argument more stronger, the teenager has her arsenals ready by saying that even if, she studies well and scores goods in Matric (Xth Standard), will her mother be able to invest more money for her further studies? The answer is a big No! So, Why dream and waste efforts. 

Apu is one among those silly teenagers studying in a government school who finds joy sitting at the back bench along with her equally dumb friends. Apu needs to be cajoled or snubbed to get up early to reach the school on time. She behaves contrary to her name 'Apeksha' (Expectation). She has no expectations out of her and her life. She has knowingly or unknowingly accepted her status of being poor as a permanent and unchangeable fact and fate of life. Hence, any advice or talk on changing the status co is booed or shot down.  
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Chanda finds Dr. Devan her mistress understand her challenges and troubles with her not so studious daughter. Amidst the household work at Mrs. Dewan's house she finds the answer to her worries - why not enrol herself to complete her half done Xth class in the school where Apu goes to study. Mrs. Dewan's suggestion had many advantages: 1. Apu will start learning and can be constantly monitored, 2. Chanda can help her understand maths better and even study together better to score well in the board exam, 3. Chanda will be able to understand the challenges Apu faces in studies, and 4. most importantly Chanda would also get an opportunity to continue her studies which she had to abandon because of her financial and social constraints.  
Nil Battey Sannata raises many pertinent questions in regard to education in our country: education becoming commercialized, the apathy in government schools of having poor infrastructure and lack of advanced educational aids, flourishing coaching institutes that is accessible and affordable to only kids of well-to-do families or to those who already score well in studies, free education to girl child and promoting and supporting adult education.

The film brings in a kind of freshness in story telling which has all the elements to keep you glued to your seat and relate with the characters on screen. They make you laugh, think, cry and moreover inspire to have a dream. The film is very powerful and is successful in conveying it's message to have dreams in life and why it's important to be one's own savior to change which is unfavorable in the path of one's well being socially, mentally and emotionally.

Ria Shukla as Apu stands out in the film and is very well supported by an awesome actor like Swara Bhaskar. The mother and daughter's bonding, tiff, insecurities, and concerns are very well portrayed by both. 
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Swara Bhaskar is one such actor who easily makes a place in the viewers' heart by her flawless acting. She as Chanda makes you relate her agony as a mother, sole breadwinner, the trauma of being a school drop-out, fear of seeing the same fate for her daughter and the financial challenges an underprivileged marginalized family goes through when they dream big.

Pankaj Tripathy adds a dash of humour and playfulness in his role as the Principal of the government school as well as the Mathematics teacher. He is terrifically impressive while he maintains a studied watch on his students during the school assembly proceedings, his way of imparting the nuances of Mathematics in his class and the funniest of all is the meeting he has with Mrs. Dewan and the new entrant of the school Chanda Sahay. Pankaj Tripathi has been applauded a lot for his outstanding roles in films like Gangs of Wasseypur and Masaan.  In Nil Battey Sannata too he excels in his role.

Sanjay Suri in his cameo role as a collector furthers the plot through his subtle presence. He as a people-centric collector with all ears to listen, understand and guide is a delight to watch.   

Ratna Pathak Shah as Dr. Dewan plays the role of a well wisher and socially progressive woman effectively and effortlessly. Her rapport with her maid is quite appreciable and she genuinely appears to be sensitive towards the need for Chanda to pursue her studies as well as carve a better future for her daughter.
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Director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari has made a fabulous film. The characters of the film connects with you instantly frame by frame, be it Mrs. Dewan a progressive, socially aware and understanding middleclass mistress, Chanda a 'Bai' who looks and behaves like any other Bai in our colony, Apu a lackadaisical teenager who doesn't give a damn to her mother's sacrifices and concerns about her future, the School Principal (Pankaj Tripathi) of a government school - funny but yet thorough professional and Apu's classmate - the studious boy who finds mathematics quite interesting. The well-crafted scenes deftly written by Ashwini Iyer, Nitesh Tiwari, Neeraj Singh, and Pranjal Choudhary leaves you wanting for more. The newcomers - Rohan and Vinayak has rendered some good music which are worth listening.

In short, Nil (Zero) Batta/Battey (Division) Sannata (Silence/Zero) which means 'Jinka kuch nahin ho sakta' (Good for nothing) is a must watch. It is inspiring, realistic and riveting. What happens to Chanda's dreams and expectations? Will she be able to make Apu realize the importance of studies and the relevance of pursuing one's own dreams? Watch them and  their incredible performance on screen in a nearby theatre and add wings to your dreams too ...

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 4/5