Movie Review : Nil Battey Sannata (2015)

Rating : 4.5/5
Genre : Drama
Year : 2015
Running time : 1 hour 40 minutes
Director : Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari
Cast : Swara Bhaskara, Ratna Pathak Shah, Riya Shukla, Pankaj Tripathi, Sanjay Suri
Kid rating: G

Chanda Sahay (Bhaskara) is a housemaid who works multiple jobs so that she can pay for her daughter Apeksha’s (Shukla) studies and Apeksha can have a better life that she, Chanda, has had. Apeksha is in school but takes little interest in schoolwork, and this has Chanda worried. When Apeksha sneers at her mother’s concern telling her that her ambition is to become a housemaid just like her, Chanda decides that something must be done. Thus she takes a drastic step. Will her gameplan succeed?

Nil Battey Sannata is a lovely film, simple yet earnest. You can’t help liking it. The title comes from the Hindi slang “Nil Battey Sannata” which roughly means “being incompetent”. Here it is used to denote Chanda and her daughter’s difficulty with Math, a subject semi-literate Chanda cannot help Apeksha with because she herself fears it.

This simple story is made appealing by its wonderful direction and marvelous actors. Swara Bhaskar needs no accolades from me; the lady brightens up every film she appears in. Here she portrays Chanda’s hopes and dreams and struggles with such nuance! I really felt for Chanda’s predicament. Lively Ratna Pathak Shah plays Chanda’s sympathetic employer, Dr. Diwan, who encourages Chanda when she loses hope. The fabulous Pankaj Tripathi is Prinicipal Srivastava – he is quite taken aback by Chanda’s plans. Then there is Ria Shukla who plays 15 year old Apeksha with such aplomb – she sure does carry her weight!

Nil Battey Sannata is an extraordinary film. It doesn’t toe the Bollywood line. It isn’t bold or brash or happening even. It doesn’t have a heady star-cast. What it does have is the promise of a heart-tugging tale, told with elegance and dignity.

This one is classiness itself. A must-see!

Kidwise: This is clean and kid-friendly.

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