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'Nil Battey Sannata' Reviews (Page 2)

touch_of_pink IF-Sizzlerz

Joined: 23 December 2014
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Posted: 22 April 2016 at 8:26am | IP Logged

Nil Battey Sannata' Review: Swara Bhaskar Shines In A Well-Intentioned Misfire

Posted: 22/04/2016 11:11 IST Updated: 22/04/2016 12:48 IST

Adolescence is hard enough to go through, but several times harder for a parent who thinks the world of their child. That's the backbone of Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari's Nil Battey Sannata, a paean to working mothers everywhere.

It's a film that could've well been made by Nagesh Kukunoor in the 00s, a heart-warming' drama that aims high and lands somewhere in the middle. Well-intentioned to a fault, Nil Battey Sannata rides on a singularly quirky premise: a lower-class working mother, Chanda (Swara Bhaskar), returns to school in a bid to encourage her teenaged daughter Apeksha (Ria Shukla) to better her score in mathematics for her upcoming 10th standard board examination. Not only does she land up in the same school (believable since it must be the only one that is affordable in terms of fees as well as commute), but she also lands up in the same class.

Chanda makes ends meet by working as a domestic help in the home of a well-read, progressive lady (Ratna Pathak Shah, dependable as always) as well as working a shift at a local factory. Apeksha, on the other hand, is well in the throes of teenage angst. Despite terrible scores in all subjects, not just mathematics, she spends most of her time bunking school, watching TV and harbouring a crush on Ranbir Kapoor. Her justification: even if she does well, it's not like her mother has the wherewithal to send her to college, and she is most likely going to end up a domestic help herself. As a further act of rebellion, she even refuses to learn how to cook.

To its credit, the film does a number of things fairly well. The absence of a father (or father figure) in her life is only hinted at; mercifully, the film spares us the embarrassment of including a pivotal scene that spells out how Apeksha's attitude is related to this. Proceedings are also enlivened by Pankaj Tripathi, who sinks his talented teeth into the role of the nastily theatrical headmaster/maths professor Shrivastav, a turn that works wonderfully in this kind of film despite his occasional tendency to chew scenery.

But Nil Battey Sannata, despite all its attempts at sincerity, commits the cardinal sin of treating its school-going characters with a touch of condescension " a sin no film like this should commit. The script only takes the trouble to flesh out a few of Chanda and Apeksha's classmates " an inseparable brother-sister duo (with the former sporting a hilarious bowl haircut) and the class topper who is (naturally) wise beyond his years. This, by itself, isn't a problem " it's how they're portrayed in thought and action that is.

Consider a section in the film that shows how Chanda, after initially being the butt of jokes, quickly becomes one of the most popular kids' in class. At one point, Apekha, who is naturally mortified at the thought of her mother attending school, is shown to be the only kid sitting away from her, sulking, as she regales everyone else with... what? We don't know because this scene, conveniently, is part of a musical montage.

Despite all its attempts at sincerity, the film commits the cardinal sin of treating its school-going characters with a touch of condescension " a sin no film like this should commit.

An earlier scene had shown how the classmates ask Chanda where she lives and note that she and Apeksha have the same last name, live in the same locality (Chanda then attempts to lie and cover it up, unconvincingly), AND seem to be carrying the exact same packed lunch. Throughout the film, in fact, no one questions why Apeksha very obviously avoids and even glowers at Chanda in school, even when her best friends are fully besotted with her mother. Now, I know these kids are bad at math, but we're supposed to believe they can't put two and two together? One only has to revisit last year's brilliant Marathi film Killa or the endearing Tamil indie hit Kaaka Muttai to see that it is entirely possible to depict children as immature and sometimes nave beings without treating them like crucibles of narrative convenience.

The scenes in school leave several questions unanswered. Chanda, with some help from Nerdy Topper Kid, starts to beat Apeksha at mathematics, infuriating the latter even further. Hard to swallow, since Chanda hasn't been to school in several years (syllabus changes, anyone?), but one can let that go. But what about other subjects? Geography? Science? English? We don't know since this seems to be a school that focuses mainly on mathematics and a few token Hindi classes (the latter mainly to set things up for a predictably sappy climax). Meanwhile, it seems like the entire staff is either a) in on the secret' and phenomenally good at maintaining poker faces; b) somehow unaware of what's happening; or c) don't really care either way (the likeliest explanation, since this is a government school).

Everything, then, rests on the performances of the mother and daughter, which go a long way in making the film watchable, despite its shortcomings. Bhaskar carries most of it on her shoulders, with a finely calibrated performance that balances badassery and vulnerability quite perfectly. I loved the moment in which she sticks her tongue out at a couple of high-handed security guards, showing us her inner child and breaking the dignified mother figure stereotype that Bollywood likes to exploit.

If anything, it's the film that holds her back, either with its contrivances or by occasionally making her look a tad too well-turned-out to be completely convincing as a working-class woman in Agra. Either way, this is still fantastic work from a promising, intelligent actress who deserves more meaty roles such as this one.

Shukla lends able support, portraying the volatility of a 15-year-old with nuance. What's heartening is that she comes across as a three-dimensional human being even though she's essentially playing an ungrateful little brat. Or perhaps that's just me trying to justify my teenaged transgressions.

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subhs IF-Dazzler

Joined: 10 February 2011
Posts: 3761

Posted: 22 April 2016 at 8:27am | IP Logged
i will watch this movie in theater 

Edited by subhs - 22 April 2016 at 8:26am

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ponymo IF-Rockerz

Joined: 05 February 2012
Posts: 7982

Posted: 22 April 2016 at 8:31am | IP Logged
Cant wait to watch this one.
touch_of_pink IF-Sizzlerz

Joined: 23 December 2014
Posts: 11214

Posted: 22 April 2016 at 8:34am | IP Logged

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touch_of_pink IF-Sizzlerz

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Posted: 22 April 2016 at 8:35am | IP Logged

Nil Battey Sannata Movie Review By Mayank Shekhar


So maid in India

Nil Battey Sannata

Director: Ashwini Iyer Tiwari

Actors: Swara Bhaskar, Riya Shukla, Pankaj Tripathi

Rating: ***1/2

I guess your personal exposure to the world has a lot to do with the size or quality of your dreams, or ambitions, as it were. That's really what this film is about.

Rich-poor is a simple dynamic to maintain, if the two live wholly separate lives. And they usually do. The maid (or the house-help) is a curious demographic exception, in that sense.

She is really part of your family. And yet she is so not. She's privy to your expensive needs, cooks food and irons clothes that cost many times over her annual salary. She empathises with your #FirstWorldProblems still.

When the day's work is done, she steps out of your tony place in the evening towards another world or home so diametrically opposite to yours. That in effect is what you watch in this picture.

The conflicts in this film's story are in fact so central to urban lives that even if you didn't care too much for the movie per se, it'd be hard not to be touched by it in some form or the other.

But of course, you do care for Nil Battey Sannata. The title literally means zero; or zero, divided by zero, which is infinity. Metaphorically, it's someone drawing a blank when confronted with a subject they have no clue about.

You care, because, stylistically speaking, production wise, it is a well-made movie to begin with"why else would you otherwise? There's no such thing as a terribly made "important" picture, no? No.

What really stand out at a basic level are the inspired performances in this film though. They'd work equally well if this was a staged play. Young Swara Bhaskar plays a maid, and a working mother to a 15-year-old girl (Riya Shukla, so instinctive, and disarmingly natural).

Mainstream audiences may recall Swara as Salman Khan's sister from Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. But one really took notice of her talent as Kangana Ranaut's Bihari BFF in Tanu Weds Manu. Being ancestrally Bihari myself, I couldn't think of anyone who'd got that Patna accent so pat on.

If anything, her twang is a bit fuzzy here. The film is set in Agra, which is west Uttar Pradesh. Her little daughter dances to Bhojpuri pop at home, which I presume would be a more Bihari / eastern UP thing to do. The kid goes to the local government school. Her grades are hardly worth writing home about. But she's okay with that.

Knowing her family's financial compulsions, and given the company she keeps at school, the li'l girl is happy to aspire to be like her mother"maid, or a posh nanny at best. Her buddy in school wants to be a driver. This is something that gives the mother sleepless nights. She couldn't be working so hard to perpetuate a status quo. "Iss desh mein bachhon ko career decide karneka freedom hi nahin hai (Children have no freedom of choice when it comes to careers in this country)," the daughter tells the mom, in a hilarious twist to the follow your passion' sort of messages inspired by movies such as 3 Idiots.

Swara by the way is herself only 28 years old. She does little to mask her actual age on screen. Her daughter being 15 doesn't seem odd at all, because that teenage is important to this film. It adds another layer to the story. It's an age when kids are most embarrassed by their parents. They believe them to be the avowed enemy of all things forbidden therefore good. This resentment is universal, whether you're the child of a maid or a millionaire. This movie captures that quite well.

How do you tackle your kid's lack of ambition? Do you thrust upon them your own unrealised dreams? These are tough questions. And I don't think this film aims to answer them at all. It is preachy, only in parts, if at all. Which is for the better.

The mom incidentally enrolls herself in the same school as her daughter, perhaps so she can enthuse her to compete with her instead. Does it make sense in the real world? That's not the point. Does it, in the film? Yes, it does.

Like mother like daughter (or, like this reviewer, and many others in the past), take on a formidable common opponent"mathematics. It's one of those subjects that you either get, or you just don't (at least in Indian schools, after the tenth standard in particular, when the level suddenly shoots up to suit IIT aspirants alone).

Both the mother and daughter are presently in the 10th, preparing for the "Boards", the penultimate Indian nightmare. Frankly, if I had a Maths teacher like the one in this film (Pankaj Tripathi, totally a scene-stealer), I might be tempted to study more only to please him, if nothing else. This teacher is also the principal of the school.

There's something so credulously sweet about some schoolteachers, and God knows we've all grown up with some, who derive their innocence from the young ones they teach. Shrivastav-ji here is one of those (he fully reminds me of Gopinath Dwivedi, my own Sanskrit teacher from school; I'm sure you'll be able to see shades of a masterji you've known as well). He is strict but polite, draped in sarcasm, yet very concerned about his students.

In fact every character in this film has to be unusually positive for us to unquestioningly gloss over the complexities of a story like this. And they are" right from the maid's employer (Ratna Pathak Shah) to the district magistrate (Sanjay Suri).

Do they quite add up in the actual world? Well, if 2+2=4, that would be Maths right? Or if one explored only realism, it would be an "issue-based" film, no? This goes beyond, and therefore it's art, or entertainment actually; and a good one at that. That's more than a good enough reason to sit through an hour and half for sure.

The maid in your home, in that sense, is the closest study in social anthrolopology you're ever likely to get on a daily basis. She tends to your expensive needs, gets paid

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touch_of_pink IF-Sizzlerz

Joined: 23 December 2014
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Posted: 22 April 2016 at 8:37am | IP Logged

Nil Battey Sannata Movie Review: A Luminous Tale that makes you Believe in Dreams

April 22, 2016 Team Pinkvilla7716 reads3 comments 

Nil Battey Sannata is a delightful story about human relationships. It is a heart-touching portrait of how far a mother can go to realize her dream of seeing her daughter make it big in life. Told with Aanand L Rai's classic simplicity, it strikes a chord with all. The success of any film is defined by how much you either adore its characters or are in awe of them. The former works in this case. Be it Swara Bhaskar, as a housemaid with dreamy eyes or her daughter, the maths-phobic teenager, are both immensely relatable. You fall for them the minute you set your eyes on them. Ria Shukla as Apeksha (fondly called Apu) is a familiar character. She is caring but a rebellious teenager, who fancies Ranbir Kapoor and Salman Khan more than her books. She loves her mother to death but is so consumed by living life carelessly that she is ready to settle for her mom's profession, because of sheer laziness. And yet, you only want to chide the child. Swara as Chanda, the sacrificing epitome of love and care is fabulous. She is everything a perfect mother should be. Pampering Apu is her sole motive in life, even when she knows the daughter is at fault.  It is this perfect characterisation that gives the film it's edge.

The film's story subtly touches upon an array of topics in the garb of humour. The social divide, the caste system of education and why education is a privilege reserved solely for the rich. Chanda is a single mother who does a bunch of odd jobs to send her daughter to school. But her ambitionless daughter has regard for her mother's hardwork as she busies herself in killing time with her friends and dancing to Bollywood  songs.

It appears to most that female directors bring in more soul to their movies.  Ashwini Iyer is a perfect example of that. From the first scene, you are sucked into her world of innocence. She crafts every detail with care -  the nooks and corners of Agra, sweet shops, the jalebis, dusty roads, tuition classes, the winter fog...You buy into her world unquestioningly. She has immense faith in her material and her conviction gives the story an edge.  The filmmaker, for most part, is sure what she wants to do with the story.  She makes it emotional but never melodramatic.  There is a strange charm and unique balance in the film. When Chanda pushes her daughter to work harder at school,  you know she is right. But the sight of Apu laughing with her friends after school, strolling by the river bring a smile to your face. Even you want to buy the kid some more time to live innocently.

Alas,  the brutal education system doesn't spare anyone. She is soon pulled into the web of algebra and trigonometry. Her mother to get her to study diligently enrolls herself in the same class.  Apu is embarrassed and she would do anything to get her out of her class. Chanda throws up a challenge her daughter's way. If she scores better in maths than her mother, the latter will quit school.  Apu slogged, burned the midnight oil and succeeded in scoring better than her mother in Maths. Once her mission was accomplished, she returned to her lazy ways. It is at this point, the film loses its grip on the story. What follows seems too stretched. It gets loopy and makes it noticeable that the writers didn't know ti finish it off. 

For the last half an hour,  the film drags. There is melodrama, which was carefully avoided all through and it gets too preachy. Also, the excessive emphasis on mathematics is an inherent  problem  of the Indian education system. The film pushes forward the same idea unthinkingly. It is like no other subject exists in the curriculum. Why does the Indian education system play down on arts and literature? Iyer's tale is definitely realistic. The issue is pertinent to the Hindi heartland, where Maths rule the notebooks and civil services is what they collectively aspire to crack. At one point,  we wished this thought process changes. Why do children from small towns, not have the privilege to choose out-of-the-box careers? Have they been conditioned to believe in the power of government jobs? Most sell their hobbies, which could've landed them lucrative careers as well, simply for the respect of a  white-collar job. The film never debates it but as urban audience, you will be compelled to the question. 

Saving the minor glitches, it is a well-performed, well-written, moving film. The cast deserves a big applause for getting the nuances so well. Riya Shukla and Swara Bhaskar are fascinating. Pankaj Tripathy is endearing. Ratna Pathak is lovable.  But it is after all Swara's film.  It is a big risk for any actress to play a mother to a teenager. In archaic times, it was considered the demise of an actress' career. In this day and age, it is a bold move that calls for cheering. 

As you exit the theatre misty-eyed, you are overwhelmed by the story. You come out believing that dreams do come true. And hardwork assures you a better chance at it than luck.

We rate the film a 65% on the Pinkvilla movie meter.


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touch_of_pink IF-Sizzlerz

Joined: 23 December 2014
Posts: 11214

Posted: 22 April 2016 at 9:41am | IP Logged

'Nil Battey Sannata' - Movie Review

By Shubha Shetty-Saha |Posted 3 hours

'Nil Battey Sannata'
U; Drama
Director: Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari
Cast: Swara Bhaskar, Ria Shukla, Ratna Pathak Shah, Pankaj Tripathi
Rating: 3/5

'Nil Battey Sannata' - Movie ReviewA still from 'Nil Battey Sannata'

Nil Battey Sannata's story doesn't offer anything novel so a lot depends on how this story about a maid with limited means trying to live her dreams through her highly reluctant daughter is executed. Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari scores in execution and manages to keep the interest alive for most part of the film.

What is refreshing is the way Iyer presents the relationship between a maid Chanda (Swara Bhaskar) and her 14-year-old daughter Apu (Ria Shukla). A rebellious teenaged daughter's interaction with her optimistic and sometimes irritatingly intruding mother is as real as it gets. Iyer shows a confident, steady handed direction even as she is dealing with Apu's interaction with other kids, never going overboard and keeping it as close to reality as possible.

Iyer's trump card is also with the kind of performances that she's eked out of the central characters. Swara's Chanda is vulnerable at times but is strong willed and determined to make the best out of her seemingly hopeless situation. Swara has managed to capture the moods of this character fantastically well. The young Ria who plays the obnoxious teen Apu is a natural in front of the camera. But even then it is Pankaj Tripathi who stands out with his superb portrayal of Mr Srivastava, the whimsical but good-hearted principal of the school that Apu studies in. He effortlessly infuses joy and delight into his character and the goings on. The ever-dependable Ratna Pathak Shah in a friendly role is a pleasure to watch.

While the first half is smooth and keeps you involved, the second half falters at many points and the climax seems too convenient and hurriedly wrapped up.

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touch_of_pink IF-Sizzlerz

Joined: 23 December 2014
Posts: 11214

Posted: 23 April 2016 at 1:23am | IP Logged
'Nil Battey Sannata' Review: Swara Bhaskar Breaks, Then Wins Your Heart

Rajeev Masand  RajeevMasand

First published: April 22, 2016, 8:35 PM IST | Updated: 16 hours 14 mins ago

'Nil Battey Sannata' Review: Swara Bhaskar Breaks, Then Wins Your Heart
Directed by Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, Nil Battey Sannata stars Radhika Apte in the lead role.

Director: Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari
Cast: Swara Bhaskar, Ratna Pathak, Pankaj Tripathi

It would be incorrect to label director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari's debut film Nil Battey Sannata as merely a coming-of-age tale. Yet, perhaps many can identify with the character of a rebellious teenager whose mother fervently hopes that her child will clear the tenth standard and scale great heights, even when it's evident that the kid is not at all academically inclined and happily so.

This sensitively written and directed film follows Apeksha (Ria Shukla) as she finally grows up, but it's as much the journey of Chanda (Swara Bhaskar) and the sacrifices she must make so she can realize her dreams of giving Apu a better future.

Chanda is an uneducated domestic help who lives in a basti in Agra, supplementing her income by working in a shoe factory, a pickle shop, and at the dhobi ghaat.

All her hopes are pinned on her flighty daughter, who studies at a government school. Apu is a typical backbencher, with an aversion to books. She couldn't care less about being pulled up and punished, whether for coming late to assembly or for being a poor student. Besides which, it looks clear that Apu will never be able to pass in Maths, her weakest subject.

Chanda is at her wit's end, trying to straighten out her stubborn child, who announces that she's happy to become a bai' like her mother. It's Chanda's no-nonsense, yet sympathetic employer (Ratna Pathak Shah) who comes up with the novel idea of the mother going back to school, so she can motivate her daughter to study.

Tiwari injects just the right dose of humor and empathy into Nil Battey Sannata. The film is directed with a light touch, yet realistically - you can see the careful details that have gone into creating the world that the characters inhabit, and the conversations they have.

The film subtly addresses prejudices and makes a strong case for educating girls, but does so without preaching. The portions at the school are the most entertaining, thanks in no small part to PankajTripathi, who plays the idiosyncratic school principal and maths teacher, whom the students love to make fun of. A scene in which Ratna Pathak Shah's character appeals to him to admit Chanda in the same class as Apu sparkles with humour.

And yet the film that shows such promise in the first half, limps towards a predictable finish. The plot wears thin, and some bits - like Chanda's chance meeting with the kind local collector (Sanjay Suri) and their repeated encounters - come off as contrived in an otherwise convincing story. Good thing the performances keep you invested in the characters.

Ria Shukla, as the feisty yet selfish Apu, has an undeniable screen presence, and succeeds in making you care for her even when she's at her most petulant.

But at the heart of the film is Swara Bhaskar as Chanda who refuses to give up on her dream and her daughter. Not one note out of place, she grabs your attention, be it in shining hope or in crushing disappointment. Tiwari directs the film as a touching ode to motherhood, even if it does seem to labor the point towards the last half hour.

I'm going with three out of five for Nil Battey Sannata. Translated literally, the phrase means zero multiplied by anything equals zero. It's commonly used to imply blankness, or the notion of knowing nothing. Ironic, considering the film leaves you feeling rewarded and just a little bit wiser.

Rating: 3 / 5

Edited by touch_of_pink - 23 April 2016 at 1:22am

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