Nil Battey Sannata Review


An amazing, amazing movie! I don’t remember the last time I saw a movie and was mesmerized. I was shouting out praises to my mother and sister, appreciating all aspects of the movie, from the acting to the direction. It was top notch. My bantering got to such a level I had to be told to shut up by my mom.

Every second I saw that movie in the hall, I felt amazed by just how well the movie achieves what it set out to do. It’s a simple story. A mother and daughter live in a rural area in Agra in Uttar Pradesh (UP) in India. The mother works as a maid in households, as well as a shoe factory and eventually a dhaba (a small local restaurant) to meet the household needs. The daughter, studying in a government school, is disinterested, lazy and has no dreams for her life. She has a simple disposition; she will be a bai (maid) like her mother, simply because “Engineer ka beta engineer, Doctor ka beta doctor, Bai ki Beti Bai” (An engineer’s son is an engineer, a doctor’s son is a doctor, a maid’s daughter a maid). The Mother, ardent to not let her daughter fail in life just as she did, takes a drastic step joins her daughter’s school in an attempt to motivate her to study and do well in life.


Swara Bhaskar plays the mother, Chanda Sahay. And OH MY GOD! She does an amazing job at it. Every second she is on screen, you feel spellbound by her acting and command over her character. Her dialect is perfect. Her body language is natural. The way she smiles, the way she worries and the way she gets angry, Swara Bhaskar never lets you feel she’s there. There’s only Chanda. Honestly, I doubt any actress in Bollywood could play this role as perfectly or as smoothly as Swara Bhaskar does. It felt as though Swara Bhaskar was made for this role. All her life lead her to this beauty of a role and I feel lucky to have seen her acting in this movie. She truly steals the show.


Alongside her is a myriad of other characters, such as the students she meets in the school, the math whiz kid Amar(Vishal Nath) who sees maths as a part of life, Pintu(Prashant Tiwari) who wants to be a driver like his father, so he can drive officials up and down, Sweety(Neha Prajapati), the sweet girl who wants nothing more than to enjoy life and then be married to some boy and finally, her daughter, Apeksha Sahay(Ria Shukla), affectionately called Apu.


Apu if the foil to Chanda. Where Chanda dreams big, Apu limits herself. Where Chanda works hard, Apu lazes off. Where Chanda wants her daughter to dream, Apu believes “Gareeb aadmi sapna nahi dekh sakta” (Poor man cannot dream).


Last but not the least are Ratna Pathak, portraying Dr. Mrs. Deewan, the employer of Chanda at her house, also the guidance compass of Chanda who encourages her to go to school, and Pankaj Tripathi as the school’s principal. Both of them do amazing jobs at bringing their characters to life. Every scene involving Pankaj Tripathi is painfully hilarious. You’ll be laughing out of your seats to each and every time he opens his mouth and serves as the perfect comic relief all throughout the movie.


The direction of this movie! Directed by debutant Ashwini Iyer Tiwari, this movie is a treat to the eyes. Both scenically (in its portrayal of even rundown and rural places) and acting wise. This movie is also a treat thematically. It takes one theme throughout the story (Dreams) and very subtlety pushes it forward. Every time think about the movie, either the scenes which involve education or involving in some way, the dreams. To be big, better, get out of the cycle of poverty and resignation and be somebody. And the intertwining between education and dreams. How a good education is the only panacea to poverty and pre-requisite to achieving your dreams, to a certain extent. The message is simple, have a dream, fight for it, never let anybody take it from you, and even when you have nothing, you still have your dream. Never limit what you dream. Most of all, never stop dreaming.


The delivery of the message is powerful, so is the poignancy of dreaming as well as the relationship between the mother and daughter, and how parents will always sacrifice their needs just so their children will lead lives better than they did. You can’t help but feeling touched by the relationship between the mother and daughter and also inspired to dare to dream and do it.


However, the sad part is that the people who would benefit most from this movie, the people living in abject poverty or ones too busy to maintain their household and get three meals a day will never see this movie The people who truly need to see the beauty of dreaming. So maybe, the makers of the movie, if they ever do read this or even the government, should possibly make some campaign to have this movie reached to the masses, the people who actually need it, and even if it impacts one person positively, I believe that will be the victory of cinema and show movies are not simply entertainment media but also moral and message driven.


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