Swara Bhaskar, Riya Shukhla, Ratna Pathak Shah, Pankaj Tripathi
Anand L. Rai
Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari
Seldom are films made in Bollywood that not only entertaining but also inspire without getting too preachy. Nil Battey Sannata (a slang used locally in Uttar Pradesh, which means being an absolute zero or incompetent), perfectly fits into this rare mold.
The atypical plot focuses on the tempestuous relationship between an extremely passionate mother, Chanda (Swara) and her lackluster daughter, Apeksha (Riya).
While most 10th grade school kids in India cherish the dream of becoming a doctor, engineer, computer engineer, chartered accountant etc, Apeksha aka Appu has no such dreams. Rather she has made up her mind to become a Bai (housemaid), just like her mom.
On the other hand, Chanda, who works multiple jobs to make ends meet, has big dreams for her daughter despite her limited financial resources. Chanda lives each day with the hope that Appu would take her studies seriously, she is unwilling to give up on her dream— Apeksha. However, irrespective of all her efforts, Chanda is unable to motivate her stubborn, unambitious, and lazy daughter. Chanda believes that mathematics is the core problem, but lacks the funds for a private tutor.
Chanda’s quirky employer (Ratna Pathak) insists that Chanda should go back to school to learn and in retur, teach Appu. She gets Chanda enrolled in Appu’s school; much to Appu’s horror Chanda is now her new classmate. Thus begins the mother-daughter conflict.
The film essentially focuses on the need for education and is splendidly written with not a single dull moment. Laced with humour, it also subtly touches upon the commercialization of education in India.
Through beautiful orchestrated on-screen moments, the movie tells us that it is never too late to pursue your dreams. The scene where Chanda goes to meet the district collector (Sanjay Suri), only to know which college one must attend to become a collector like him, is absolutely endearing. This apart, the film boasts of several such ‘awww’ moments. Certain scenes are a bit contrived, especially towards the end and the film does get into the predictable zone, but the film is weaved together so beautifully with heartwarming scenes and dialogues that you do not mind it falling into the cliché trap.
Swara Bhaskar is charming as Chanda. She has undoubtedly put her heart and soul into this character. The power packed actor is a pleasure to watch. Riya Shukhla and Ratna Pathak Shah both deliver fine performances. Pankaj Tripathi who plays the Math teacher in the film is hilariously delightful. Finally, it’s debutant director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, who skillfully brings the film to life. She has not only succeeded in bringing out the right emotions from her lead actors, but also from the supporting cast.
Nil Battey Sannata is a powerful, warm-hearted film that entertains and inspires you to chase your dreams.
A perfect movie to bond with your mum over a tub of popcorn.