Nil Battey Sannata review: Heartfelt and clever!

Nil Battey Sannata review: Heartfelt and clever!

Source: General

By: Sonia Chopra

Critic's Rating: 3/5

Friday 22 April 2016

Movie Title

Nil Battey Sannata review: Heartfelt and clever!


Ashwini Iyer Tiwari

Star Cast

Swara Bhaskar, Ratna Pathak

Jab Jaago Tab Savera! This line is often repeated in the film, and translated in English would mean - 'It is morning, when you waken.'

This is the case with single parent Chanda (Swara Bhaskar), who is single-handedly bringing up her daughter by doing odd jobs and working as a maid. Chanda's only respite is her employer (Ratna Pathak Shah) who often doubles up as her confidante. But after a long period of darkness, Chanda's morning finally arrives.

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Egged on by Pathak's character, Chanda applies for admission in Class Ten in the local school. Her employer's influence sees her through the admission and the befuddled reaction of the principal, but the real trouble is brewing at home.

Thing is, Chanda will now be studying in the same class as her daughter Apu (Riya Shukla), a nightmare-come-true for the rebellious teen. “Meri izzat ka bhaji paala kar doge” (you’ll ruin my respect/reputation) she fumes, unable to believe this strange turn of events.

Chanda isn't particularly interested in school. Her aim is to study in school, so she can coach Apu at home. Apu, by the way, is Nil Battey Sannata (good for nothing/hopeless) in school, especially at math. What's worse, she's not particularly ambitious.

While Chanda dreams of Apu finishing her education and making something of her life, Apu shocks her mother by proclaiming she does not mind being a maid.

The film then takes a gentle turn and begins discussing dreams. What are Chanda's dreams? Does Apu have any? It also showcases the life of a single mother from the economically weaker section of society, who works inhumanly hard to make ends meet!

The film focuses beautifully on the tender and often tumultuous relationship between a single mother and an impudent teen. The most interesting portions are where their home quarrels play themselves out in class, with the Unit Test forming the battleground. In the Unit Test tussle, the one that scores the higher marks gets to have their way.

They breathe fire like adversaries in class, all this noticed by the affable and square school principal Shrivastava (Pankaj Tripathi, excellent). What's worse is Apu's friends now look up to the motherly advice by their new classmate Chanda.

But beneath all this external drama is the heart of a mother that beats only for her child. And the child who means well, but is besieged by things like peer pressure, hormones and immaturity.

It is this mother-daughter equation that is the film's highlight. They argue all the time, and celebrate small victories with a '"chowmein" treat. In several scenes, you find your eyes a bit moist, even as you continue smiling.

Hats off to Swara Bhaskar for such a heartfelt, moving performance; an act so earnest you are emotionally invested in the character from the first scene. Riya Shukla plays Apu with incredible nuance, folding in several character traits.

This is a fine debut by Ashwini Iyer Tiwari, yet another entrant from advertising. The pace is measured, and that works in favour of the film. The only hitch is that the solutions are too simplistic. So, Math can be learnt by mugging up a few cutesome limericks, and a single incident can dissolve a character's cynicism and change everything. However the good far outweighs the flaws.

For the outstanding story, interesting storytelling style, and incredibly authentic performances, this one is a must-watch!

Nil Battey Sannata review: 3.5 stars.

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