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'Nil Battey Sannata' Reviews

touch_of_pink IF-Sizzlerz

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Posted: 22 April 2016 at 8:02am | IP Logged

Nil Battey Sannata review: A mother-daughter angst told sensitively

  • Gautaman Bhaskaran, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  •  |  
  • Updated: Apr 22, 2016 08:34 IST
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. (YouTube)

Nil Battey Sannata 
Director: Ashwini Iyer Tiwari
Cast: Swara Bhaskar, Ratna Pathak Shah
Rating: 4/5

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.

Ratna Pathak Shah plays a benevolent employer to Chanda (Swara Bhaskar). (Youtube)

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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touch_of_pink IF-Sizzlerz

Joined: 23 December 2014
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Posted: 22 April 2016 at 8:12am | IP Logged

'Nil Battey Sannata' review: Swara Bhaskar shows performance-heavy films can also be fun

Udita Jhunjhunwala  Apr 22, 2016 12:47 IST

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Why is Math the bte noir for so many? Even today, years after I solved my last differential equation, my eyes glaze over and numbers start floating on a sheet when I am faced by a row of digits, figures, accounts and calculations.

Math is anathema for Chanda and Apeksha too; the mother and daughter at the centre of director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari's debut feature film Nil Battey Sannata (good for nothing).

Chanda (Swara Bhaskar) is a single parent working multiple jobs everyday - as a domestic help, at a shoe factory, making pickles, etc -- in order to support her rebellious teenage daughter. Tenth standard student Apeksha/ Apu (Ria Shukla) simply skates through class. Disinterested in academics, she barely passes in most subjects but always fails Math.


Swara Bhaskar in Nil Battey Sannata.

Chanda is fastidiously saving money to enroll Apeksha in a coaching class, but the caveat is that she must pass her pre-boards with 50 per cent marks to be eligible.

Chanda's great dream for Apu is that she finds herself an ambition and chooses a career. But when asked what she wants to do after school, Apu replies that a driver's son becomes a driver and a maid's daughter becomes a maid, so she too will follow in her mother's footsteps and become a maid.

Chanda is dismayed but a novel idea, initiated by Chanda's boss and confidante (Ratna Pathak Shah), leads to Chanda getting admission not just in her daughter's school, but also in the same class. Instead of this being a situation of harmonious coexistence, Apu is embarrassed and appalled that her mother is now not just her classmate, but also popular and hardworking. What follows is a battle of wits and a case of who blinks first as Chanda and Apu become competitors in class.

Through well-etched scenes (written by Iyer Tiwari, Nitesh Tiwari, Neeraj Singh and Pranjal Choudhary) and solid characters the film delivers important lessons about dreams, motivation, friendship, parenting and sacrifice, including the view that one should befriend math rather than fight it.

Bhaskar embraces the role of the indefatigable feisty mother who does not give up hope. This is one of her most nuanced performances and a welcome change from the motor-mouth characters seen in Tanu Weds Manu andRaanjhana. As a precocious teenager, Ria Shukla is a fine sparring partner. Pankaj Tripathi is the scene-stealer as the zealous school principal and Math teacher. He has a skip in his step and playfulness in his sternness, which are a delight to watch.

Sanjay Suri steps in to a special appearance as the local Collector whose considerate nature and beacon-light car impress Chanda so much that she stalks him for days just to find out how Apu can get a similar post. One wonders, why she didn't just ask the same boss lady who helped her find a coaching class and got her a seat in school? This track is the only diversion in an otherwise focused and precise screenplay.

Using locations, sets, costumes, language and setting (Agra), Iyer Tiwari creates an authentic world with a universal emotional core. However, at the close, the narrative trips over its own benevolence. The relationship between Bhaskar and Pathak Shah is a touch overdone and, while it managed to skip melodrama and manipulation throughout, the end succumbs to sermonizing (and a kitschy song called Maa') which dilutes the impact of an otherwise assured debut delivered with a lightness of touch and a positive message.

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touch_of_pink IF-Sizzlerz

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Posted: 22 April 2016 at 8:14am | IP Logged

Nil Battey Sannata Movie Review

Saibal Chatterjee   | Friday, April 22, 2016

  • Genre:
  • Cast:
    Swara Bhaskar, Ratna Pathak, Pankaj Tripathy
  • Director:
    Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari


A disarmingly simple and heart-warming film that articulates its message without making a song and dance about it, Nil Battey Sannata is a fine achievement.

It shines a light on a segment of society where life is a daily grind and where the smallest dreams face the most daunting obstacles. 

Nil Battey Sannata mines the life of Chanda (Swara Bhaskar), a single mother who does menial jobs all day just in order to give her teenaged daughter Apeksha (Riya Shukla) the education that might help her break the shackles of poverty and privation.

It does not resort to scenes of high drama nor does it get its characters to deliver any stately soliloquies of intent. 

Yet it builds up the mother-daughter relationship gently and sensitively to a finely-tuned, emotionally affecting crescendo. 

Barring a scene here and a scene there in which Apeksha and her friends teeter on the edge of the overly precocious, there is little in Nil Battey Sannata that strikes a false note. 

Apeksha, a spirited and fun-loving girl who has trouble getting up in time for school, is a classroom laggard completely at sea with mathematics.

Her mother, egged on by the lady doctor (Ratna Pathak Shah) at whose home she works as a maid as well as the math teacher and school headmaster (Pankaj Tripathi), decides to take matters in her own hands to help her daughter alter her approach to the subject. 

While its focus is principally on a domestic help who dreams of a better life for her daughter, debutante Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari's film spreads the narrative net wide enough to provide a big picture view of the social dynamics at play here. 

Chanda is a school dropout herself - her absent husband is mentioned a couple of times but what has happened to him is left unstated. She has an acute of appreciation of the pain of dreams left unfulfilled. 

She therefore does not want the same fate to befall her daughter, but the latter resents her mother's constant nagging and inches dangerously close to outright rebellion.

In an unusual narrative twist, Nil Battey Sannata pits the mother against the daughter not just in their modest tenement but also in the classroom. 

Chanda's relationship with her daughter is rather choppy because the latter is outright sceptical of her mother's grand plans for her. 

Apeksha's question to her mother is pointed and repeated: "Do you even have the means to educate me beyond high school?" 

In this battle of attrition between a strong-willed mother and an adamant daughter, math serves as an apt metaphor for the challenges that the duo is up against as they struggle to weave their way out of their misery.

They are helped enormously by one student in Apeksha's class who is exceptionally bright and does not merely understand mathematics, he enjoys it. 

This boy, too, has a back story (it is revealed right at the end of the film) that puts the main narrative in perspective while showing the diffident girl the way out of the tunnel that she is lost in.

Nil Battey Sannata has some moments that are achingly sweet, and others that are genuinely moving. They make for an engaging drama. 

The acting is first-rate and perfectly in sync with the demands of the script. 

Although hard pressed at times to disguise the sophistication inherent in her body language, Swara Bhaskar presents a striking portrait of tenacity. 

She gives all that she has to the character of the weather-beaten but hard-working woman who will stop at nothing in the pursuit of her dreams.

Child actor Riya Shukla, as the girl forced by circumstances to adopt cynicism as a defence mechanism, demonstrates impressive maturity in fleshing out a character that evokes deep empathy.

Ratna Pathak Shah, playing Chanda's guide and well-wisher, delivers an effortlessly effective performance. 

Pankaj Tripathi is absolutely scintillating - yes, that is the word for him - as the highly motivated math teacher who teases and coaxes and mocks his students in order to draw them out of their aversion to the subject. It is a spectacle to behold. 

Nil Battey Sannata is easy to recommend. It is light-hearted, easy on the eyes and mind, and full of heart. 

This film says a great deal about a girl-child's struggles, a mother's hopes and the ways of the education system. But, in the end, Nil Battey Sannata is also a good old story about life and its vicissitudes.

Edited by touch_of_pink - 22 April 2016 at 8:16am

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touch_of_pink IF-Sizzlerz

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Posted: 22 April 2016 at 8:18am | IP Logged

Nil Battey Sannata movie review: Heartwarming yet entertaining

PublishedApr 22, 2016, 2:45 pm IST
UpdatedApr 22, 2016, 4:40 pm IST
Set in Agra, Swara Bhaskar starrer 'Nil Battey Sannata' is a message in bottled entertainment.
It's refreshing to see Swara switch from being a talkative sister to Salman Khan (Prem Ratan Dhan Payo) to a single mother.
 It's refreshing to see Swara switch from being a talkative sister to Salman Khan (Prem Ratan Dhan Payo) to a single mother.

Director: Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari

Cast: Ratna Pathak, Swara Bhaskar, Pankaj Tripathi and Riya Shukla

Set in Agra, Nil Battey Sannata is a message in bottled entertainment. It is the story of a mother (Chanda, Swara Bhaskar) and her 15-year-old daughter (Apeksha, Riya Shukla). The story of a mother's hope for her daughter, and the daughter's cynicism whether that hope would be able to lift them over the squalor of their present lives.

Chanda is a maid under a benevolent malkeen, Ratna Pathak Shah. She struggles to make ends meet and is, therefore, forced to dabble in many jobs to pay for her daughter's education. From working in a shoe factory to washing clothes, she does it all. Appu, as Chanda fondly calls her daughter, thinks she will become a maid like her mother and is not interested in studying. She also thinks Chanda will never have the funds to support her higher education. She is cynical, and ribs her mom at every chance she gets. But Chanda decides to show the way by becoming an example herself.

Each relationship - the mother-daughter, the maid-malkeen and most importantly the teacher-student - is taut and effective, providing a solid vehicle for the narrative. Ratna Pathak Shah overdoes it a bit though as Chanda's confidante and motivator. She convinces Chanda to join school and all hell breaks lose between mother and daughter. Pankaj Tripathi as the headmaster keeps us in splits with his one-liners. A special shout out to Sanjay Suri who plays the collector. Swara meets him to find out what course is to taken to become an IAS officer.

Debutant director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari has shown this heart-warming story in an entertaining and emotional way. The climax of the film makes one choke. Though the first half is slow, the second half picks up the pace. The casting of every character by Mukesh Chhabra is apt and Riya is a great find. It's refreshing to see Swara switch from being a talkative sister to Salman Khan (Prem Ratan Dhan Payo) to a single mother. She bears the burden effortlessly. Producer Aanand L Rai and Eros have shown that small films can be brought to the celluloid with entertainment.

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touch_of_pink IF-Sizzlerz

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Posted: 22 April 2016 at 8:20am | IP Logged
Updated: April 22, 2016 11:11 IST

Nil Battey Sannata: A lesson to learn

A still from the movie.
A still from the movie.

A feel-good film about gender and education with performances and themes that resonate

There is a school assembly scene in Nil Battey Sannata (slang for a good-for-nothing person) in which the school principal, Mr Srivastava, is picking on late-comers, asking them to stand in a corner with their hands up. Simultaneously, he is silently gesticulating to the other students, to stand straight and still, to not pick their noses.

It is a scene and a character that, in the hands of a lesser actor, could have slipped into a caricature, offering an opportunity for some buffoonery but Pankaj Tripathi plays it with such nuance, care and likeability that it leaves you smiling for his knack of connecting with the audience. He is genial even when he is sarcastically asking his students to choose between becoming a ghoda ya khachchar (a horse or an ass), effortlessly taking us back to school and all the quirky teachers who refuse to get erased from our memories.

He excels yet again when Didi (as Ratna Pathak Shah's character is called through the film) is persuading Srivastava to admit her maid Chanda (Swara Bhaskar) to Class X in which a's Chanda'daughter Apeksha is also studying. The idea is to offer some competition to the daughter, who refuses to study, so that she can come up trumps in her crucial board exams. The headstrong, cussed Shah and a befuddled, cornered, unsure Tripathi are in perfect sync. And then, there is a wry smile on his face each time he encounters Bhaskar, making one wonder if their relationship is in the same unspoken zone as the one which his character Sadhyaji shared with Devi in Masaan .

Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari's small, simple, straightforward and fuss-free film rides on well-etched characters and relationships which are brought alive by a nicely put together ensemble cast. Of course, the centrepiece is the mother-daughter pair of Chanda and Apeksha (Ria Shukla), though one must say they look more like sisters. A maid's dream to see her daughter do well, her love, banter and conflicts with the teenager, resonate.

Bhaskar is consummate, but it is newcomer Shukla who surprises with her spot-on act of a film-obsessed rebel without a cause. Kids do have a way of hurting the parents most, the way she does. We have all done that too at various points in our lives. The way Chanda seeks strength and support from her employer is just as believable and real. And it's nice the way Tiwari keeps Didi's husband in the background, a perennial presence who rarely intrudes or speaks up in the Didi-Chanda universe.

The dialogue is another interesting aspect of the film, the way it plays with the UP lingo, the Hindi sayings ( kangali mein aata geela, jab jaago tabhi savera, and many more). It is a small but telling detail that the word prayaas ' (attempt) doesn't become the usual filmi Hindustani koshish ' . Here the character, in keeping with his shuddh Hindi, sticks to prayaas. Another nice detail is in the way the daughter addresses her mother as tu instead of aap ; it is so true of a lot of UP, Uttarakhand, and even Maharashtra perhaps, a sign of intimacy with the mother rather than disrespect.

Of course, there are bits that get preachy. For example, how maths can be simple to learn if you link it up with life or when you decide to become friends with the subject.

There are plot points you could nitpick on but at the end of the day Nil Battey Sannata remains a warm, feel-good film which offers hope and the promise of upward mobility that doesn't depend on the social strata you come from but your own will and diligence.

Nil Battey Sannata

Director: Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari

Starring: Swara Bhaskar, Pankaj Tripathi, Ratna Pathak Shah, Ria Shukla

Run time: 96 minutes

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touch_of_pink IF-Sizzlerz

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Nil Battey Sannata Review

April 22, 2016

Rating: 4/5 Stars (Four star)

Star Cast: Swara Bhaskar

Director: Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari

Nil Battey Sannata Movie PosterNil Battey Sannata Movie Poster

What's Good: Nil Battey Sannata is an extremely realistic, straight from the heart film. This poignant story appeals to you instantly and is a perfect film to promote girl-education.

What's Bad: A preachy end, slightly puts you back into the seat from this otherwise realistic film.

Loo Break: Only the interval!

Watch or Not?: Surely watch! This film is a beautiful mother-daughter story that will no matter what be relatable to everyone from their growing up years. These are the kind of films that prove cinema is all about story-telling and not star values!

User Rating:

10 Votes


Chanda Sahay (Swara Bhaskar) is a hard-working woman who manages several small jobs to provide for her daughter's education. She works as a maid and is lucky to have found an employer (Ratna Pathak Shah) who encourages her towards working hard on her daughter's education. Apeksha (Ria Shukla) is her teenage daughter who has somehow managed to make it to her 10th standard. She is Nil Battey Sannata as they say at Maths. Academically unambitious, Apeksha feels her mother won't afford her further education and hence stops taking her studies seriously.

Afraid that all her hard-work on getting her daughter interested in studying are going a waste, Chanda is soon advised by her employer to study herself. Chanda enrolls in the same class as her daughter and that starts to irk Apeksha.

Will Chanda joining school help her daughter realize her dream is what the rest of the plot is about.

Swara Bhaskar in a still from movie 'Nil Battey Sannata'Swara Bhaskar in a still from movie Nil Battey Sannata'

Nil Battey Sannata Review: Script Analysis

The script is winner in Nil Battey Sannata. The slice of life film has so much to offer emotionally that it connects instantly. Capturing the mother-daughter spirit astoundingly, it also celebrates the beauty of education. The kind of confidence that it provides to a person is shown beautifully in this film.

Maths is one subject that has haunted many lives including mine and hence the portions of learning it fun away are appealing. One of the most great things said in the film about Math is the fact that how in most cases, the question itself has the answers and hence if you don't read the question properly, you cannot get the answers. Of course its the same with life and with such subtle references, this script appeals.

All the characters in this film have been crafted with immense thought. The one that catches the eye other than Chanda and her daughter would certainly be the principal (Pankaj Tripathi). A man who is reluctant at start to accept a full-grown lady to join school but soon turns encouraging with his noble heart.

The scenes where Chanda and her employer conversate are crucial portions of the narrative that inspiring.

It is stirring, the way the themes of aspirations and motherhood are captured in this tale.

Nil Battey Sannata Review: Star Performance

Swara Bhaskar has been in supporting roles in most films lately and here's a film that proves why she deserved a solo since start. She is an actress with great potential and as Chanda does full justice to her role. She looks extremely comfortable in her role and emotes with such great effect that it is impossible not to feel for her character.

Ria Shukla too does a great job as the rebellious teenage daughter. Her act is captivating enough.

Pankaj Tripathi is more often seen pulling off negative roles but it is a welcome change to see him like this. Only an actor of his caliber can pull off a role this sweet.

Ratna Pathak Shah is effortlessly good in her role of the employer.

Nil Battey Sannata Review: Direction, Music

Ashwini Iyer Tiwari debuts as a director with this film and we have to say she strikes gold. Right from the first frame, she keeps it simple and that's what works wonders.

The best part is, the director makes sure that her film is not all talk and no play. In a serious plot, the regular inclusion of light humor is appreciative and the only mistake remains to be a preachy end. Had they resorted to a regular ending, the film could have made its point even more clearer.

Interesting thing about this film is that at no point are you expected to feel pity for Chanda's character. You respect the character from start and that's what the director aims to show.

The good part is that the film manages to make a strong point in just 95 minutes.

Nil Battey Sannata Review: The Last Word

Nil Battey Sannata is a beautiful film surrounding a mother-daughter relationship. For being not too preachy, nostalgic for all parents as well as kids and emotionally riveting, I am going with a 4/5.

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raj80 IF-Sizzlerz

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Posted: 22 April 2016 at 8:25am | IP Logged
hope the film is good...

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