Director: Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari
Cast: Ratna Pathak, Swara Bhaskar, Pankaj Tripathi and Riya Shukla
Set in Agra, Nil Battey Sannata is a message in bottled entertainment. It is the story of a mother (Chanda, Swara Bhaskar) and her 15-year-old daughter (Apeksha, Riya Shukla). The story of a mother’s hope for her daughter, and the daughter’s cynicism whether that hope would be able to lift them over the squalor of their present lives.
Chanda is a maid under a benevolent malkeen, Ratna Pathak Shah. She struggles to make ends meet and is, therefore, forced to dabble in many jobs to pay for her daughter’s education. From working in a shoe factory to washing clothes, she does it all. Appu, as Chanda fondly calls her daughter, thinks she will become a maid like her mother and is not interested in studying. She also thinks Chanda will never have the funds to support her higher education. She is cynical, and ribs her mom at every chance she gets. But Chanda decides to show the way by becoming an example herself.
Each relationship – the mother-daughter, the maid-malkeen and most importantly the teacher-student – is taut and effective, providing a solid vehicle for the narrative. Ratna Pathak Shah overdoes it a bit though as Chanda’s confidante and motivator. She convinces Chanda to join school and all hell breaks lose between mother and daughter. Pankaj Tripathi as the headmaster keeps us in splits with his one-liners. A special shout out to Sanjay Suri who plays the collector. Swara meets him to find out what course is to taken to become an IAS officer.
Debutant director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari has shown this heart-warming story in an entertaining and emotional way. The climax of the film makes one choke. Though the first half is slow, the second half picks up the pace. The casting of every character by Mukesh Chhabra is apt and Riya is a great find. It’s refreshing to see Swara switch from being a talkative sister to Salman Khan (Prem Ratan Dhan Payo) to a single mother. She bears the burden effortlessly. Producer Aanand L Rai and Eros have shown that small films can be brought to the celluloid with entertainment.