Nil Battey Sannata (2016)

The first thought I had when I saw this film is why aren’t big stars doing simple movies which have competitive budgets and great stories? The title itself is so intriguing that when you come to know its meaning, it adds another layer to the already nuanced film.

Swara Bhaskar is faced with an uphill task when her daughter’s weak mathematics threaten the completion of her matriculation. With the help of her employee Ratna Pathak Shah, she deals with this issue in an original albeit unlikely manner.

Her daughter Apeksha/Apu, played by Ria Shukla, shows us the plight of youth today, their choices, or lack of, highlighting a major problem. She is forceful yet vulnerable. Her friends at school, Sweety (Neha Prajapati) and Pintu (Prashant Tiwari) also leave a thoughtful impression in their limited screen time, especially nerdy Amar (Vishal Nath).

Ratna is the helpful, accommodating but not superficially philanthropic employer, who does her best but doesn’t spoil Chanda. Swara as Chanda does justice to an ordinary person’s extraordinary efforts. She brings a layered portrayal very easily on screen, making it believable without going over the top. Math teacher Pankaj Tripathi is comedic and humane, while Sanjay Suri in his guest appearance leaves some hope for the underdog.

Director Ashwini Iyer Tiwari has brought to life a balanced film which is riddled with disparities and imbalances. She has achieved a normalcy in dire circumstances by not resorting to melodrama and saying it ‘as it is’.

A beautiful mother daughter tale, told in a straightforward manner, reaching its core message effortlessly. Must watch!

3.5/5