In most films about mid-life romance, steadily ageing couples discover hitherto unknown things about each other. Or even about themselves just when they think they have slid into a comfortable routine. In Angrezi Mein Kehte Hain, directed by Harish Vyas and co-produced by National Film Development Corporation, an older couple married for over 25 years, are yet to fall in love.
Starring the enormously talented Sanjay Mishra as a cranky, weatherworn husband Yashwant Batra, four years short of retirement from his dull India Post job in Varanasi, and Ekavali Khanna as Kiran Batra, Yashwant's caring-but-neglected wife trying to be patient with her ageing partner's callous ways, Angrezi Mein...paints a somewhat endearing picture of a humdrum, middle-class family in small-town India which refuses to take the lack of marital excitement as a given.
When Yashwant sums up in the beginning, his perception of a simple, sorted married couple, “Main office jaata hun, aur yeh ghar sambhalti hain. Yeh hoti hai shaadi,” we know there is trouble ahead for the raging patriarch for whom marriage is a checklist of must-do responsibilities like earning a steady salary or getting the daughter married off after college to a "respectable" family, or supervising the orderly upkeep of the house, with no room for admiring his wife's new sari or her skillful cooking.
Predictably, Mishra is made to learn his lesson, especially from loving young couples around him: one just starting their "blissfully wedded" life and another trying hard to clutch on to whatever little can be grasped from a sudden bout of illness. They inspire Yashwant to inject more youthful fervour in his otherwise doddering marriage where his wife takes a stand and decides to leave.
While this slice-of-life take on elderly love is easily relatable and is hardly ever explored in depth in Bollywood, there is a small niggle which becomes more and more obvious as the movie progresses. Perhaps, the leading couple could have done with more screen chemistry between them; for some reason the pairing seems a bit of a mismatch even though both play their parts well independently. Also, the grey and dishevelled Mishra could have been more wise-cracking; he could have ranted more with smarter lines.
But Varanasi has been beautifully evoked here in Faroukh Mistry's cinematography. Kashi's eternal ghats in rustic shades of crimson and blue and winding lanes with poetically fraying houses come alive in every frame. It hard to fall out of love in this backdrop.
Angrezi Mein Kehte Hain
Director: Harish Vyas
Cast: Pankaj Mishra, Ekavali Khanna, Pankaj Tripathi, Shivani Raghuvanshi